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Compaq Alpha-chip supercomp boasts 30x power increase

Open the pod bay door please, HAL....

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Compaq intends to build a supercomputer capable of 100 teraflops (trillion operations per second), or approximately thirty times as powerful as the baddest machine currently in use. It will be developed in partnership with the Sandia nuclear lab and genomics outfit Celera.

The monster box will be used for advanced biological research. Commercially-profitable research, we can guess, judging by Celera's track record in the field.

An immense network of 10,000 to 20,000 Alpha processors will form the basis of this formidable number cruncher. Keeping them all running properly will, of course, be the primary challenge.

Compaq says it's devising ways to enable one CPU to take over another's function in the case of failure, as the networking capability will be built directly into the chips themselves.

While IBM has the nod to build the copper Alpha chip, those to be used in the HAL-esque supercomp will be manufactured by someone other than Big Blue, the company says. The machine will be finished by 2004, we were told. ®

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