UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON INAUGURATES SUPERCOMPUTING PUSH WITH ACQUISITION OF THINKING MACHINES' NEW CM-5
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON INAUGURATES SUPERCOMPUTING PUSH
WITH ACQUISITION OF THINKING MACHINES' NEW CM-5
MADISON, Wis., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Inaugurating an effort to vault the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the forefront of supercomputing research, the UW-Madison computer science department today unveiled a version of what is likely the world's fastest computer.
The new supercomputer, made by Thinking Machines Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., is a new generation of supercomputer that holds the potential to solve scientific and commercial problems that are beyond the scope of conventional supercomputers.
Known as the CM-5, the new machine is a massively parallel supercomputer and is one of only a handful in the world. It has the potential to harness the power of hundreds or thousands of processors that can work simultaneously and in concert to solve large and intricate problems.
Conventional supercomputers, known as vector computers, have very powerful and fast processors that, for the most part, work on a problem one step at a time.
The computer science department's new $1.7 million supercomputer will be the centerpiece of a push to make UW-Madison a national leader in research on massively parallel computers, according to Mary K. Vernon, UW-Madison professor of computer science.
"This will put us at the forefront of parallel computing," Vernon said. "It gives us the ability to experiment on the most advanced massively parallel system you can buy today."
The purchase of the new machine was funded by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Additional support was provided by the UW-Madison Graduate School and the College of Letters and Science.
UW-Madison computer scientists have been experimenting with parallel computers for 10 years in a multi-million dollar effort to improve the design, capabilities, and programmability of the machines that many believe will dominate the supercomputing field by the year 2000.
The new machine will become a laboratory in which UW-Madison computer scientists can collaborate with scientists in the fields of medicine, biology and engineering.
Already, computer scientists working on projects ranging from cancer diagnosis to the development of new high-performance databases are employing the new computer.
Other scientific uses will include:
-- The development of new parallel programming tools and software;
-- Research on artificial intelligence and computer vision;
-- Work on genetic sequencing and protein folding, two of the most
important questions in modern biology;
-- The prototyping of the next generation of massively parallel
Graduate School Dean John D. Wiley said the purchase of the new supercomputer is part of a coordinated computer science-engineering strategy to propel UW-Madison to the forefront of the field of massively parallel supercomputing.
"This machine is the latest of a number of massively parallel computers that have been added on this campus and clearly puts us near the forefront of the next generation of supercomputers."
The CM-5, according to Vernon, unifies two prior approaches to the development of massively parallel supercomputers.
One prior strategy, dubbed MIMD, opted for flexibility over ease of programming. The other approach, SIMD, enabled simple programming but sacrificed flexibility.
"This new machine can shift back and forth, as appropriate, between the two models and makes the SIMD mode more flexible," Vernon said. "The research challenge is to get the best of two worlds for various applications."
/CONTACT: Mary K. Vernon, 608-262-7893 or 608-262-1204, or John D. Wiley, 608-262-1044, or Terry Devitt, 608-262-8282, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; or Tim Browne of Thinking Machines, 617-234-5525/ CO: Thinking Machines, Inc.; University of Wisconsin at Madison ST: Massachusetts, Wisconsin IN: CPR SU: SH-DD -- NE004 -- 4521 11/18/91 13:41 EST