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Tennessee Senator Backs New Supercomputer

Sen. Lamar Alexander has proposed funding for the construction of the world's fastest supercomputer.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R.Tenn., is backing a supercomputer project in his home state that would be the world's fastest.

Alexander has proposed funding for the Department of Energy that will support the construction of the supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Cray Corp. would build the computer, but its future depends on funding.

Alexander recently toured the world's most powerful supercomputer in Japan. The Earth Simulator supercomputer is capable of processing 35 trillion calculations a second. The next four supercomputers in the worldwide rankings are located in the United States.

Alexander and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D.-N.M., are jointly sponsoring legislation that authorizes the Energy Department to establish an "Ultrascale Scientific Computing Capability" 100 times more powerful than any supercomputer currently available for scientific research.

The legislation, entitled the High-End Computing Revitalization Act of 2004, would authorize a minimum of $100 million for each year for five years for the program. The Oak Ridge Lab and New Mexico's Department of Energy labs at Los Alamos and Sandia are early adopters of supercomputer facilities for work on nuclear and scientific research. Cray is developing a Linux-based supercomputer built around Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors at the Sandia National Laboratory.