Skip To Content
NSF Logo Search GraphicGuide To Programs GraphicImage Library GraphicSite Map GraphicHelp GraphicPrivacy Policy Graphic
OLPA Header Graphic

NSF Extra


NSF Support Key to Some of the World's Fastest Supercomputers

November 18, 2003

Photo NCSA Tungsten Cluster
NCSA Tungsten Cluster
Photo courtesy: National Center for Supercomputing Applications

 Note About Images

Virginia Tech's X Cluster and the Tungsten Linux cluster at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the world's third and fourth most powerful supercomputers, according to the 22nd edition of the Top500 List, a ranking compiled every 6 months of the fastest supercomputers. The list was released on Nov. 16 at SC2003, an annual supercomputing conference held this year in Phoenix, Ariz.

The X Cluster, developed using Apple PowerMac G5s and introduced in September 2003, achieved a benchmark performance of 10.2 teraflops - trillions of calculations -- per second, according to the Top500 List. Virginia Tech received a $400,000 NSF grant in partial support of the large-scale cluster. Srinidhi Varadarajan, an assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, and Jason Lockhart, director of the College of Engineering's High Performance Computing and Technology Innovation, initiated the venture. Varadarajan is an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award recipient.

The NCSA Tungsten Linux cluster, which boasts 2,900 Intel Xeon processors, achieved a performance of 9.8 teraflops. NCSA is one of the two leading-edge sites for NSF's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI), and Tungsten is expected to be available for production use in December.

Retaining the top spot on the Top500 List is a supercomputer built by NEC and installed at the Earth Simulator Center in Yokohama, Japan, in 2002. The second fastest supercomputer, also a repeat, is the ASCI Q system at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. Other NSF-supported research supercomputers ranked in the top 20 include the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's Terascale Computing System (at number 12) and Bluesky, an IBM SP-cluster system at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (ranked 13th).


For more information, see (News Tip).

To read about the Top500 List, see



National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: 703-292-8070
FIRS: 800-877-8339 | TDD: 703-292-5090

NSF Logo Graphic