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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Researchers at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are closing the gap between supercomputer performance and personal computer price.

A team headed by Dr. Jack Dongarra at UT and Dr. Phillip Papadopoulos at ORNL has created the equivalent of a moderately fast supercomputer using personal computer hardware worth about $130,000.

 Called TORC, for Tennessee/Oak Ridge Clusters, the computer system links 52 Intel Pentium-based processors (20 at ORNL and 32 at UT) via an Internet-like transfer line, Dongarra said.

 Papadopoulos said TORC works by allowing multiple processors to work together to solve a single problem.

TORC offers a peak processing rate greater than 14 Gigaflop/s and 6.6 Gigabytes of memory, the reseachers said. It can use the Microsoft-based NT operating system or the Unix-based Linux system.

 A conventional supercomputer might cost millions of dollars and have a processing rate of 32 Gflop/s and four Gbytes of memory, the researchers said.

 “TORC isn’t going to replace the highest performance supercomputers,” Dongarra said, “but it’s a model some scientists can use to build their own high performance computers with hardware they can buy at the computer store.”


 Contact: Jack Dongarra (423-974-8295)