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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Intel, Energy Department Unveil Supercomputer

WASHINGTON -- Researchers said Monday they have designed a supercomputer that can handle a staggering 1 trillion mathematical operations per second, a breakthrough computer experts likened to the running of the first four-minute mile.

The $55-million computer, designed by the Energy Department and Intel Corp., largely will be used by government scientists to simulate nuclear weapons tests that are now banned by international treaty, officials said. Researchers said the machine also could be used for complicated weather forecasting, genetic research, space research and other sophisticated experiments.

The computer is almost three times faster than the current supercomputing record-holder, a machine at a Japanese university designed by Hitachi Ltd.

"This is a new era in computing,'' said Jack Dongarra, a supercomputing expert and professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Intel accomplished the feat by essentially wiring together thousands of today's most powerful desktop computers. Using a technique known as "massively parallel computing,'' engineers linked together 7,264 high-end versions of Intel's Pentium processor and programmed them to operate in concert.