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Compaq joins supercomputer race

The company's advanced "clustering" technology will target areas such as data warehousing and Web search engines.

By tying together 72 Proliant servers running Windows NT into a machine called the "Kudzu Cluster," Compaq has broken a record for the time it takes to sort a terabyte, or a trillion bytes of data, according to the company.

Compaq broke the record at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sorting the data in 50 minutes, three times faster than the previous 150-minute record.

The computer cluster is made of commercially available technology, including the dual-processor Proliant 1850R servers tied together with the ServerNet interconnection technique Compaq inherited when it acquired the server company Tandem.

The goal of the machine is to help Sandia scientists better visualize data from simulations run on supercomputers.

Supercomputing announcements have picked up recently, in part because of the SC 98 supercomputing conference this week in Orlando, Florida. Today, Silicon Graphics and IBM both laid claim to having the fastest machine. (See related story.)