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Technology UCSD to host part of ‘Teragrid’ network

Technology: System Will Be World’s Fastest Civilian Supercomputer Network

The San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD will be one of several nerve centers for a multicampus computing system designed to process huge amounts of data.

The National Science Foundation has pledged $53 million for the project, containing what UCSD has called the world’s fastest unclassified supercomputers. The funds will be split between the local campus and three other research institutions.

The system will be built up over three years. The sites will get their servers beginning in the third quarter of 2002.

Known formally as the Distributed Terascale Facility, the system will be the largest, most comprehensive infrastructure ever deployed for scientific research.

It will have more than 13.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second) of computing power and facilities capable of managing and storing more than 450 terabytes (trillions of bytes) of data.

Researchers are calling the assemblage “the Teragrid” for short.

Distributed computing involves using more than one machine, and often involves machines spread over a wide geographical area.

The other institutions that will house the project are CalTech, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and Argonne National Laboratory, which has facilities in Illinois and Idaho.

Denver-based Qwest Communications will transport the data between facilities at 40 gigabits per second.

The facility will consist primarily of clustered IBM Linux servers based on a next-generation Intel Itanium processor, code named McKinley. IBM supercomputing software will handle cluster and file management tasks.

The system will also take in products from Myricom, Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corp. “Breakthrough discoveries in fields from biology and genomics to astronomy depend critically on computational and data management infrastructure as a first-class scientific tool,” said Fran Berman, the local supercomputer center’s director, in a prepared statement.

An IBM statement noted the Teragrid will be more than a thousand times faster than that company’s Deep Blue supercomputer, which defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.


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