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Cray and Sandia National Labs in New Mexico have jointly announced a supercomputer that will feature 16,000 AMD Opteron CPUs. "Red Storm" will be used for nuclear simulations and will come on tap in 2004.

It's good news for Cray, which demonstrates that it can sell into its traditional government markets using commodity PC systems. And even better news for AMD, which delayed Opteron until next year. In the case of the latter, it's particularly welcome, as AMD lost so much money in the past quarter, it requires a dedicated supercomputer to count all that red ink.

Intel's Itanium2 already delivers the SPEC performance that AMD can't deliver until next year. So there has to be a reason for the labs going for AMD?

"Opteron is technically more satisfactory," a spokesman for the labs told us. There were three specific reasons, he added:-

The team liked the pipelining in Opteron, which gave them "multiple results per cycle"; they liked the 64bit architecture, and they liked the bandwidth offered by HyperTransport, which allowed them to build a more tightly coupled machine.

So now you know. You can find the Sandia release here ®

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