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Intel, DOE build geek heaven

A supercomputer designed by Intel for the Department of Energy will eventually be part of an even more massive computer that will use more than 9,000 Pentium Pro processors.

A supercomputer designed by Intel (INTC) for the Department of Energy will eventually be part of an even more massive computer that will use more than 9,000 Pentium Pro processors to achieve mind-boggling computational speeds, the two parties announced.

Initially, Intel and the Department of Energy are targeting a performance of 213 billion floating point operations per second, or gigaflops. Floating point operations serve as a benchmark for the performance of a computer in handling complex scientific and engineering calculations.

But this is one computer that is definitely not coming to a desktop near you: Intel says the system fills 11 cabinets. Impressed with your dual processor workstation? The system uses 1,376 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors and more than 80GB of RAM over 688 nodes.

The computer is being developed for the DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) Option Red program, which has the goal of designing a supercomputer capable of 1.8 teraflops, (One teraflop equals 1,024 gigaflops.)

Eventually, the whole system will fill 86 cabinets spanning 1,600 square feet at the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It will employ more than 9,000 Pentium Pro processors and 580GB of system memory.

Scientists at Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories will use the system for virtual weapons tests that will help assess the reliability and performance of nuclear weapons, according to the DOE.