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Originally appeared in May 14, 2004


The US Department of Energy is developing plans to create the fastest civilian computer in the world in order to stay ahead in the supercomputing race.

With the help of Cray, IBM and SGI, U.S. scientists will use federal grants over the next two years to build a machine that could be more powerful than the Japanese Earth Simulator, considered the most powerful supercomputer in the world. Such computers are necessary for in-depth climate and energy research.

Currently, the United States runs all but one of the world's fastest supercomputers. However, other countries have been gaining in the development of computers with enormous amounts of sustainable computing power. Japan's supercomputer has made some question the United States' position as supercomputer leaders.

The American supercomputer, purposed for installation at Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Laboratories, is projected to achieve sustained calculations of 50 trillion per second. The Japanese Earth Simulator currently runs at a top sustainable speed of nearly 36 trillion calculations per second.

The development is hoped to lead to significant research gains and innovations in technology, further allowing for stability in healthcare, economics, and lifestyle.

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