The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Compaq Computer Corp. a US$200 million contract to build the largest supercomputer in the world - a system with enough disk space to store 20 times the number of books at the Library of Congress.
The supercomputer will be housed in the new Strategic Computing Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and will be used to simulate nuclear weapons testing and other classified and strategic tests. Simulations of nuclear weapons have become necessary because of the shift in U.S. policy away from real nuclear tests.
Code-named "Q," the system will be able to attain a peak performance of 30 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops). It contains about 375 AlphaServer systems, joined by more than 6,000 fiber and copper cables.
"This gives the government the ability to support the development of a system that promotes U.S. superiority in technology," said Ron Ross, president of Compaq Federal.
The National Science Foundation this month also selected a Compaq system as part of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, which will build and manage the world's largest supercomputer for nonmilitary scientific applications, such as weather forecasting, earthquake modeling and studying global climate change.
In June, IBM Corp. delivered to DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory a supercomputer with an estimated peak performance of 12.3 trillion operations per second. That system, which will become operational later this year, is the first to exceed the double-digit teraflop speed barrier.