Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

FOR RELEASE                                    CONTACT:
after 2 p.m. EST, Thurs., Sept. 2                 Steve Eisenberg
                                                  Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

                                                  Steve Conway
                                                  Cray Research, Inc.

Pittsburgh Center Unveils New Cray Research Supercomputer

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center unveiled today (Sept. 2) the first installed prototype of Cray Research Inc.'s newest supercomputer, the CRAY T3D. The machine marks Cray's first venture into the relatively new area of massively parallel processing (MPP), which strings together hundreds to thousands of microprocessors to tackle the most challenging scientific problems, such as global warming and developing new drugs and materials.

"There is a continued need for increased computational power to attack scientific problems of great social importance," says Ralph Roskies, co-scientific director of the Pittsburgh center. To achieve that goal, the T3D, which already is operational, will work in tandem with fellow Cray teammate, the C90, nicknamed "Mario" by center staff in honor of hockey great Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mario is a traditional parallel vector supercomputer with 16 processors and has a peak theoretical speed of 16 billion calculations a second.

The T3D delivered to Pittsburgh has 32 processors, based on the new Alpha chip from Digital Equipment Corp. Within six months, the number of processors is expected to increase more than 10 times and be many times faster than Mario.

Cray technicians began installing the T3D Aug. 23 at the Westinghouse Energy Center (WEC) in Monroeville -- about eight miles east of Pittsburgh -- where the center's hardware is maintained by WEC staff. "The T3D is the 11th supercomputer we've installed at this site over the years, including two other MPP's," says James Kasdorf, director of supercomputing for Westinghouse Electric Corp. "This one has come up more quickly and smoothly than any before, which is really remarkable for the first one in the field."

Cray, considered a world leader in supercomputers, will formally announce the T3D computer line at a Sept. 27 Washington news conference. The machines' prices and peak theoretical speeds also will be announced then. By mid-decade, Cray expects to have a follow-up MPP system with a peak performance of one trillion calculations a second.

"We're proud that an organization of Pittsburgh's stature continues to rely on Cray Research supercomputers," says Cray Research Chairman and CEO John F. Carlson, "and that the first installed prototype CRAY T3D system passed PittsburghÕs acceptance tests so quickly."

Also today, Pittsburgh officials announced an agreement with Cray to jointly develop applications software for the T3D. The other announced "parallel applications technology partner" with Cray is NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Developing applications software has been a major hurdle for MPP computers.

"Many computationally intensive scientific problems have parts suited to massively parallel processing (MPP)," Roskies says, "while other parts run best on powerful vector machines like the C90. With MPP, many processors often sit and wait, wasting time while the non-parallel parts of the job are run. With the T3D, the C90 will handle this processing. We expect it to be a very happy marriage."

This coupling approach, which will be used with all T3Ds, builds on the Pittsburgh center's pioneering efforts in this area. In 1991, center staff linked Mario's predecessor -- the CRAY Y-MP -- with another MPP machine, the Connection Machine CM-2. The latest hookup, however, will be about 50 times faster, says Michael Levine, co-scientific director of the Pittsburgh center.

"The tight coupling between the T3D and C90 will make it much easier to exploit the parallelism of the T3D," Levine says. "We expect this to impact significantly the willingness of both academic and industrial researchers to try massive parallelism."

For the past six months, Pittsburgh scientists have been using a T3D emulator on Mario, which has allowed them to adapt and optimize programs for the new computer. So far, five of the center's major chemistry and biomedical programs have been prepared for the T3D.

Pittsburgh acquired the T3D with funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"The placement of the T3D at Pittsburgh reflects NSF's commitment to provide a wide variety of emerging parallel systems to the academic and industrial communities through our supercomputer centers," says Mel Ciment, acting assistant director of NSF's computing directorate. "Cray Research's entry into parallel processing signifies its commitment to develop this new technology as a tool for scientific inquiry."

Director of NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Dr. Judith Vaitukaitis says, "I am extremely excited to see what lies behind the doors that have been unlocked today, and I wish to use this day as a reaffirmation of NCRR's continued support and commitment to high-performance computing efforts that bring us closer to the biomedical breakthroughs of tomorrow."

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with Westinghouse Electric Corp., was established in 1986 by a grant from NSF with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Since 1987, NIH's NCRR has supported the center.

"The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a key asset not only for Pittsburgh, but for Pennsylvania and our nation," says Carnegie Mellon University President Robert Mehrabian. "It is an essential high-performance computing facility that will help us build a national information infrastructure that will lead to global competitiveness virtually unmatched in any nation. The speed and power of this new machine, and its linkage through the information superhighways, will provide capabilities for us to effectively address critical technologies ranging from health care to manufacturing and the environment."

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor says, "We are proud that the city of Pittsburgh now hosts this new generation of Cray supercomputers. This increased computing power will advance the scope of human curiosity while confronting some of the world's most complex and vexing problems. It will enable researchers to make discoveries that will profoundly shape the world of tomorrow -- the quality of our science and the quality of our lives."

To date, more than 5,200 scientists and engineers at more than 400 universities and research centers in 49 states and the District of Columbia have used the center's facilities. Corporate users have included ALCOA, USX Corp., DuPont, Westinghouse Electric Corp., and the Chevron Oil Field Research Co.

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