NSF PR 00-53 (NSB 00-161) - August 3, 2000
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Science Board Approves $45 Million NSF Award to Pittsburgh
Terascale Computing System will come on-line in
The next U.S. supercomputing system operating at speeds
well beyond a trillion calculations per second will
reside at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC)
through an expected $45-million award from the National
Science Foundation (NSF).
Today the National Science Board (NSB), NSF's governing
body, authorized the three-year award following a
national competition. Pending negotiations between
NSF and PSC, the Terascale Computing System (TCS)
would begin operation in February 2001, reaching peak
performance by the end of that year.
"I am pleased that the National Science Foundation
is expanding its investment in supercomputing systems
capable of making trillions of calculations per second,"
said President Bill Clinton. "This investment will
accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering
-- allowing us to better predict tornadoes, speed
up the discovery of life-saving drugs and design more
fuel-efficient engines. I urge the Congress to provide
full funding for the National Science Foundation so
that they can continue to make these kinds of investments
in America's future."
Plans for the facility directly respond to a recommendation
of the President's Information Technology Advisory
Committee. Computational scientists and engineers
across the U.S. will access the TCS through a nationwide
grid of research networks.
"This award will give U.S. computer scientists and
other researchers in all science and engineering disciplines
access to a vital new high-end computing facility,"
said NSB chair Eamon Kelly.
"PSC has -- with its partners at Carnegie Mellon University,
the University of Pittsburgh and Westinghouse -- an
excellent record of installing innovative, high-performance
systems and operating them to maximize research productivity,"
said NSF director Rita Colwell.
With the aid of the computer science community, the
TCS should lead to significant social and economic
benefits such as more-accurate storm, climate and
earthquake predictions; more-efficient combustion
engines; better understanding of chemical and molecular
factors in biology; and progress in understanding
physical, chemical and electrical properties of materials.
"We received a group of strong proposals," said Ruzena
Bajcsy, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information
Science and Engineering. "The TCS will be incorporated
into our Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure
program (PACI) as a third leading-edge site, joining
the National Center for Supercomputing Applications
at Urbana, Illinois and the San Diego Supercomputer
Center in California."
PSC will partner with Compaq Computer Corporation to
build the system, whose peak performance is expected
to reach 6 trillion operations per second. The facility
will be up and running by February 2001, when its
initial speed should be 426 billion operations per
"We're pleased that NSF's terascale initiative gives
us this opportunity to use PSC's proven capability
in high-performance computing, communications and
informatics," said PSC scientific directors Michael
Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement. "Together
with Compaq, we'll create a system that enables U.S.
researchers to attack the most computationally challenging
problems in engineering and science."
The proposed system will feature 2,728 Alpha processors
from Compaq. The chips will be organized into 682
four-processor "nodes," each with a gigabyte of random-access
memory (RAM), for 2.7 terabytes of total RAM. The
system's hard-disk array will feature 50 terabytes
of primary storage, with a further 300 terabytes of
disk or tape storage available as needed.
In addition to this hardware's raw power, the system
will feature high-performance software for system
administration and job scheduling, along with compilers
and other tools for programmers. The operating system
will be Tru64, Compaq's version of UNIX.
PSC is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University
and the University of Pittsburgh, with the Westinghouse
Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is
supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth
of Pennsylvania and private industry.
NSF's proposed budget for fiscal 2001 includes requested
funds for a second terascale facility. Pending approval
by Congress, that competition would begin in late
2000, with an award decision by fall 2001.
For more information, see:
TCS website: http://www.interact.nsf.gov/cise/descriptions.nsf/pd/tcs/
TCS research highlights: http://www.psc.edu/publicinfo/tcs/
PSC website: http://www.psc.edu/