Intel creates new division, HPC program

Hoping to nudge high-performance computing into the enterprise, Intel has created a US$36 million program to research new ways of simplifying supercomputers. The company has also formed a new Parallel & Distributed Solutions Division to develop and market software for users of high performance computing (HPC).

The division was created in October and is initially being run by Richard Wirt, an Intel fellow and the general manager of Intel's Software and Solutions Group. The division is responsible for grid and parallel processing software and will also support Intel's HPC Parallel Application Centers.

Separately, Intel has launched a three-year advanced computing program designed to "accelerate the intersection of high performance computing and volume technologies," said Rick Herrmann, the manager of Intel's High Performance Computing Program Office.

The program will employ 50 people from various divisions within Intel, who will work with original electronics manufacturers, government users, and academics to prototype new HPC applications, and may even fund some end-user research into this area, Herrmann said. "We want to see better system scalability and better system management," he said.

Separately, on Sunday Intel will announce that its Itanium 2 processors have been selected as the platform for a US$20 million contract signed between Lawrence Livermore National Labs and Fremont, California-based California Digital Corp. to build a 3,840 processor supercomputer called Thunder.

Thunder is expected to go online some time in January, according to Herrmann. It will be a 20-teraflop system made up of 960 four-processor computers running Intel's 1.4GHz Itanium 2 Madison chips.

A teraflop is a trillion mathematical calculations per second. The most powerful supercomputer in the world, the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, is capable of a peak performance of 41 teraflops.

Lawrence Livermore researchers will be using Thunder to do basic science research in a wide variety of areas, including structural mechanics, seismology, and biology.

California Digital, with 55 employees, acquired the hardware business of high-flying Linux startup VA Linux Systems Inc. in 2001.

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