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World's fastest supercomputer goes down a bomb

Nuclear boffins crank up ASCI White

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The US government has activated ASCI White, the world's fastest supercomputer.

This IBM machine costs $110m and simulates the effects of nuclear detonations. Shouldn't taxpayers be concerned: surely it's cheaper to blow up the occasional Pacific atoll? What with global warming, and rising sea levels, they're all doomed, anyhow.

Located in a classified area at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ASCI White weighs 106 tons and covers an area more than half the size of a football pitch. The monster machine is said to be faster than the combined speed of the next three most powerful supercomputers.

It contains six Tera Bytes (TB) of memory, almost 50,000 times greater than the average PC, and has more than 160 TB of storage capacity, or enough to hold six times the entire book collection of the Library of Congress.

ASCI White helps scientists maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile by simulating in three dimensions the ageing and operation of nuclear weapons.

Boffins hope to expand the capacity of the system so that it is capable of 100 trillion calculations per second by 2005. Currently it is capable of a mere 13 trillion. ®

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U.S. Activates World's Fastest Supercomputer: IBM's ASCI White

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