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ARIZONA STATE USES A CONVEX C3400 SUPERCOMPUTER TO GROW 'SUPER' CHIPS

ARIZONA STATE USES A CONVEX C3400 SUPERCOMPUTER TO GROW 'SUPER' CHIPS
 RICHARDSON, Texas, June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, Ariz., has installed a Convex C3400 supercomputer to simulate how semiconductor crystals grow, using the results to determine how to grow better and faster chips for the next generations of supercomputers. The materials of these semiconductor crystals, silicon and gallium arsenide, are the chips or electronic brains of modern computers. Crystals are solids whose atomic and molecular building blocks are arranged in a regular order.
 According to John D. Dow, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy, his small group of researchers is using the Convex supercomputer for this project and other advanced scientific research in physics. With the acquisition of the C3440, a four processor system with 256 megabytes of real memory, the scientific and engineering supercomputing power on the campus is increased to more than two and one-half times its previous computing capabilities.
 "The C3440 is being used to solve equations of theoretical physics and to predict the outcome of physical and chemical reactions that will occur as new 'super' semiconductor chips are grown," said Dow. "The computer then produces a videotape of the super chip growth. By studying these videotapes, we can design, redesign and optimize the chemistry of perfect chip growth for the supercomputers of the future -- without having to build multi-million dollar chemical reactors. This saves us time and money," he noted.
 "Every atom needs to be in its correct place, and the way the atoms are ordered affects the speed of the chip," Dow continued. "If only a few atoms out of every billion are out of place, the chip can be disabled. We are literally designing materials the way an architect designs a building, but at a very different level -- one atom at a time."
 An increasingly important aspect of today's scientific research is the use of advanced graphics to analyze structures and properties. Many of the problems now being studied are so complex that the results can only be understood when presented in graphical form. Dow notes that modern supercomputing computes images as well as numbers, but a single picture is worth a million numbers. "We are in the business of computing moving pictures, and each frame takes millions of times as much computer power as computing a number," Dow explained. "With motion pictures at almost 100 frames per second, our work can exhaust any supercomputer in existence, and any likely to be built for at least a decade."
 According to Dow, the Convex C3440 was chosen because of its price/performance advantages and its reputation among other influential scientists and engineers. "Not only does the C3440 have the memory size and speed required for the enormous computations involved in our research, it also features an integrated architecture. It is a remarkable technological achievement, driving the price of computing down to the point that researchers such as myself can afford a personal supercomputer, it allows us to develop unprecedented insights into the workings of nature."
 Convex systems successfully integrate the three forms of processing that researchers demand for complex, data-intensive, scientific applications: scalar processing for performing operations on one element at a time, vector for performing simultaneous operations on arrays of data, and parallel for letting two or more processors simultaneously operate on different parts of a problem.
 In addition, the C3440 contains ultra-fast circuitry: both custom Bipolar Complementary Metal Oxide Silicon (BiCMOS) gate arrays -- the largest and most sophisticated in the industry -- and gallium arsenide (GaAs) chips. Convex has pioneered the use of custom GaAs chips which deliver very high speed at relatively low power consumption.
 Dow explained that he helped in the development of GaAs as an electronic material in the 1970s, and is now reaping the benefits of some of his own research. "When I began studying GaAs, the aluminum companies were giving away gallium for free, because it embrittled their aluminum. Now gallium is in great demand for GaAs chips that go into everything from radar detectors, to microwave communications and cellular phones, to ultra-fast electronics," he
said. The C3440 is part of the Convex's C3 Series of supercomputers consisting of three distinct families of products: the high-end C3800 family, the departmental C3400 family and the low-cost C3200 family. This Series features up to eight processors, two gigaflops of peak performance (two billion arithmetic operations per second) and four gigabytes of physical memory. All systems are both compact and air-cooled, requiring no expensive special facilities or exotic cooling technologies and lowering the cost of ownership. All Convex systems are upward and downward binary compatible and are priced from $295,000 to $8 million.
 "To remain competitive in the ever-changing global marketplace, researchers must continue to take advantage of recent advances in supercomputing technologies," said Terrence L. Rock, chief operating officer at Convex. "We are excited that Professor Dow has selected a Convex supercomputer to aid in today's research aimed at creating leading-edge materials to solve tomorrow's high-tech challenges."
 Convex Computer Corporation (NYSE: CNX), a leading supplier of air- cooled supercomputers worldwide, markets its products primarily to scientific, engineering and technical users for a wide variety of applications in areas such as seismic processing, reservoir simulation, computational chemistry, computer-aided engineering, image processing, aerospace simulation and molecular biology.
 Convex, has sold more than 1,000 systems to over 550 customers in 44 countries. The systems are sold and serviced through direct sales and an extensive distribution network.
 -0- 6/9/92
 /CONTACT: Donna Burke, 214-497-4230, or Alison Peoples, 214-497-4226, both of Convex Computer Corporation/
 (CNX) CO: Convex Computer Corporation ST: Texas, Arizona IN: CPR SU:


TQ -- NY016 -- 8278 06/09/92 10:13 EDT
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Date:Jun 9, 1992
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