Government funds 108 fast computers'but not the speediest

Federal supercomputing experts are gathering for a conference in Phoenix this week amid concerns that another country still has the world's fastest computer.

The U.S. government owns 94 supercomputers and clustered systems on the new Top 500 list of fast systems, released yesterday at the start of the SC2003 conference in Arizona. The Earth Simulator in Japan held on to the No. 1 spot for the third consecutive Top 500 list, with a benchmarked speed of nearly 36 trillion operations per second.

Among the 94 U.S. government systems are 22 that are listed as government-owned without specifying the agency. Another 14 supercomputers on the new list are located at research centers that receive large federal grants.

Organizers of SC2003 have scheduled several discussions on U.S. supercomputing programs and policies.

ASCI Q, a classified Hewlett-Packard AlphaServer system at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory, is still the U.S. government's fastest system at No. 2 on the list. With 8,192 1.25-GHz Alpha processors, it scored nearly 13.9 TFLOPS on the benchmark used for the Top 500 rankings.

A self-made cluster of Apple G5 computers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute made its debut in the number-three slot, with 10.3 TFLOPS, and a Linux cluster at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Illinois held the fourth spot with 9.8 TFLOPS.

Systems located at Energy Department labs'Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory'filled out the rest of the top 10.

The sites that receive extensive federal funding and made the list include NCSA, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center in Alaska, the San Diego Supercomputing Center and the Maui High-Performance Computing Center in Hawaii.

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim, Germany, issue the Top 500 list twice a year.

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