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New Wyoming Supercomputer Expected to Boost Atmospheric Science

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Here in the shortgrass prairie, where being stuck in the ways of the Old West is a point of civic pride, scientists are building a machine that will, in effect, look into the future.

This month, on a barren Wyoming landscape dotted with gopher holes and hay bales, the federal government is assembling a supercomputer 10 years in the making, one of the fastest computers ever built and the largest ever devoted to the study of atmospheric science.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research's supercomputer has been dubbed Yellowstone, after the nearby national park, but it could have been named Nerdvana. The machine will have 100 racks of servers and 72,000 core processors, so many parts that they must be delivered in the back of a 747. Yellowstone will be capable of performing 1.5 quadrillion calculations--a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeros--every second. That's nearly a quarter of a million calculations, each second, for every person on Earth. In a little more than an hour, Yellowstone can do as many calculations as there are grains of sand on every beach in the world.

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