Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Supercomputer Salvo

Two U.S. installations will boost science and surpass Japan

When Japan’s Earth Simulator surged to life two years agoas the world’s most powerful supercomputer, it heightened concerns that computing efforts in the United States were falling behind (see “Supercomputing Resurrected,” TR February 2003). The machine performs more than 35 trillion operations per second, or 35 teraflops, at its peak speed. Now, two contenders that will vastly outperform the Earth Simulator are waiting in the wings: a 360-teraflops IBM-built machine at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scheduled for completion in 2005, and a 100-teraflops Cray system at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, due to be up and running in 2006, and possibly expanding to 250 teraflops the following year.

While the Lawrence Livermore machine will be used primarily to project how well materials in nuclear stockpiles age, the Oak Ridge system will be open to research proposals. Likely projects for the superfast computer range from simulated protein-folding experiments to research in nanotechnology, aerospace, and energy.

One possible payoff: carmakers could run computer models of crashes, reducing their reliance on expensive vehicle crash tests. General Motors alone spends $500,000 on each crash test.

This story is part of our September 2004 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

The new, ultrafast computers will also be able to more accurately predict when a material is likely to crack, an insight critical to the safety of everything from aircraft to nuclear-power-plant reactor vessels. Current simulations model individual atoms in an area no more than a few micrometers wide for no more than a millisecond. With today’s supercomputers, “You could never observe something as simple as ice melting,” says Don Dossa, program manager for the Lawrence Livermore machine. The new machine, he says, will model atoms in an area thousands of times larger for nearly one second, helping explain phenomena that people can actually see, such as a crack forming. It’s an advance that might seal the fissure in U.S. supercomputing.

Get stories like this before anyone else with First Look.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.