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Originally appeared in Friday, November 19, 2004 Oak Ridger

Bill a boon for supercomputers

From staff reports

President Bush is expected to sign into law a bill that authorizes $165 million over the next three years for the Department of Energy's Office of Science to support high-performance computing.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the bill is good news for Oak Ridge and the entire nation.

"While the United States has recently recaptured the lead in high-performance computing from Japan, our latest high-performance supercomputers are not generally available to the broader scientific community," he said. "This legislation will authorize DOE to pursue a leadership class facility at Oak Ridge that will be made available to all U.S. scientists, including our nation's industries, based on a rigorous peer review process."

Recently, the BlueGene/L supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is devoted to nuclear weapons simulations, took over the top spot on the list of most powerful supercomputers, displacing Japan's Earth Simulator. NASA's Columbia supercomputer, which is devoted to NASA missions, became the second most powerful supercomputer in the world.

According to Alexander's office, while these supercomputers represent significant advances for the United States, these systems are not generally available to the broader scientific community.

The bill also authorizes DOE to establish and operate a leadership facility for high-performance computing, and establishes a software development center to support the software needed for high-end computing platforms. Earlier this year, DOE announced that Oak Ridge National Laboratory would be the site for the leadership class facility.

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