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Compaq supercomputer debuts Monday

The computer maker will unveil "Terascale," which uses 3,000 Alpha EV68 processors housed in 750 servers and calculates as fast as 10,000 desktop PCs.

A gargantuan Compaq supercomputer called Terascale now is up and running and will make its first public appearance Monday at a ceremony at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Terascale has 3,000 Alpha EV68 processors housed in 750 servers joined with a high-speed interconnect from Quadrics. The supercomputer is housed at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and was developed by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Westinghouse Electric.

The system can perform six trillion calculations per second, Compaq said, roughly the same power as 10,000 desktop PCs. It also has 3 terabytes of memory.

The supercomputer uses Compaq's Alpha chip, a chip universally lauded for its speed but passed over in the Unix server market. Compaq was working on the next-generation EV7 version of the Alpha, code-named "Marvel," but abandoned the EV8 and future generations in favor of Intel's Itanium line.

Though the Alpha lineage now has a definite end, Compaq has been successful selling Alpha-based systems to the supercomputing niche, in particular those focusing on genetic and medical research.

New Marvel-based supercomputers are expected to be lurking in the wings, one source said, at the SC2001 supercomputing conference, which begins Nov. 10 in Denver.

Meanwhile, another Compaq supercomputer is under construction at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a model that's expected eventually to be able to perform 30 trillion calculations per second.