U.S. Activates World's Fastest Supercomputer: IBM's ASCI White

System Capable of 12.3 Trillion Calculations Per Second, Exceeding Contract By 23%

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LIVERMORE, CA - 15 Aug 2001: The U.S. Government today dedicated the world's fastest supercomputer, an IBM system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that will bring the nation an important step closer to the goal of simulating a nuclear detonation inside a computer. The IBM machine, known as ASCI White, is capable of 12.3 trillion calculations per second, more than the combined speed of the next three most powerful supercomputers on earth.

Developed by IBM under the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) Partnership, the system delivers 23% more power than was required in IBM's contract with the Department of Energy (DOE).

Located in a classified area at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ASCI White covers a space the size of two basketball courts and weighs 106 tons. It contains six trillion bytes (TB) of memory, almost 50,000 times greater than the average personal computer, and has more than 160 TB of IBM TotalStorage 7133 Serial Disk System capacity, or enough to hold six times the entire book collection of the Library of Congress.

ASCI White helps scientists maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile by simulating in three dimensions the aging and operation of nuclear weapons. Accurate computer simulation is essential to retain confidence as the stewardship of world's most complex arsenal transitions to a new generation of scientists and engineers that has neither designed nor tested a nuclear weapon.

The simulations are expected to be viewed on IBM's T220, the world's highest-resolution flat-panel monitor, with 200 pixels per inch and more than 9 million pixels in total on its 22.2-inch screen. The T220's screen depicts 12 times more detail than current monitors, displaying images with a degree of accuracy not previously possible.

"The remarkable ASCI success to date not only converts skeptics, but provides the foundation for the next phase in our race to build the Tera-Scale Facility and achieve 100-trillion calculations per second by 2005," said Livermore ASCI program leader Dr. David Nowak. "We're not yet halfway there. And the slope towards this goal is as steep as the one we've just climbed. But I feel certain that if provided the resources we can do it."

"ASCI White represents an important milestone in the development of computing technology, extending IBM's pioneering use of industry-standard building blocks to create supercomputers of immense power," said Surjit Chana, IBM vice president of high performance computing. "IBM will continue to push the boundaries of technology to provide businesses, government laboratories and universities with the power necessary to tackle the most difficult commercial and scientific computing challenges."

The NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program was developed in response to a directive from former President Clinton. It integrates the efforts of the three NNSA national laboratories: Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia.

The ASCI project calls for a series of supercomputers -- 1, 3, 10, 30 and 100 teraflops in size -- to be built over a period of several years. A teraflop is a trillion calculations per second.

ASCI White marks a breakthrough in computing. Ranked at number one of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers (www.top500.org), the IBM-designed supercomputer system is the first computer to exceed the double-digit teraflop speed barrier, a feat once thought impossible by computer scientists. IBM also designed and built an earlier system in the ASCI series -- ASCI Blue Pacific -- capable of nearly 3.9 teraflops.

Additional information about IBM can be found on the IBM home page at www.ibm.com.

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