Story last updated at 1:10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, 1999

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-- Graphic by Larisa Brass

Sci/Tech: Rundown of the biggies

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been home to several generations of large computers. Here are some of the highlights.

* 1953 -- ORACLE (Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine), the lab's first computer.

* 1971 -- Digital Equipment PDP-10, ORNL's first time-sharing system. Researchers could dial into the mainframe and actually type in programs on a keyboard with a monitor attached. This computer was used extensively for 20 years.

* 1985 -- The Cray X-MP was installed at K-25. The fastest in the world at the time, it is considered to be Oak Ridge's first official "supercomputer." Still, it operated no more quickly than today's high-end personal computer.

* By 1990 -- More than 5,000 personal computers and workstations had been installed at ORNL for scientific research and administrative functions.

* 1992 -- ORNL acquired its first "massively parallel" supercomputer, an Intel Paragon. With 512 processors, the Paragon performed at 35 gigaflops, or 35 billion operations per second, and had 16 gigabytes of memory.

* 1995 -- ORNL bought another Paragon, four times faster, with 70 gigabytes of memory.

* 1999 -- The IBM RS/6000 SP replaced the Paragons in April. Now, the supercomputer operates at 100 billion gigaflops and has 65 gigabytes of memory. By next summer it will be upgraded to 1 teraflop, or 1 trillion operations per second, and have over 300 gigabytes of memory. Potentially, says Bland, the IBM could be upgraded to operate at 3 or 5 teraflop.

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