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Intel invests in exafloppy future

'Calcul Intensif,' indeed

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Intel has announced that it is joining forces with a trio of French institutions to create a European research center focused on the development of supercomputers with exaflop-level performance.

An exaflop - for those of you who skipped that day at university - is 1,000 petaflops.

Intel's contribution to the planned Exascale Computing Research Center will be a somewhat loosely defined "multi-million Euro investment" over a three-year period, according to Wednesday's announcement. The Center will start small, with about a dozen employees. Current plans are to triple that number "eventually."

Support from Chipzilla will be joined by - francophobes may prefer to skip to the next paragraph - the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique, Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif, and Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, which will pool their resources to equal Intel's investment. For the French-challenged, those are the country's atomic-energy commission, an HPC center, and a prominent university.

Research at the Exascale Center - part of Intel Labs Europe - will, as its name implies, be directed towards developing computing clusters that will operate at 1,000 times the petaflop speeds achievable by today's top supers. As Intel explains, the research will include the development of new performance-optimization schemes and the integration of multiple petaflop-level systems.

The Center's work will result, according to Intel, in performance improvements in just the type of compute-intensive tasks you might expect: seismology, fluid dynamics, genome research, and climate modeling. And, of course, with one of the Center's main sponsors being the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique, and with France being home to 59 nuclear reactors, energy analysis will also be high on the list. ®

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