The wait is over for those eager to know who will be building the fastest computer in the world. Yesterday, August 8, the NSF linkurl:decided; to award $208 million to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for its "Track One" proposal to build a supercomputer with more than a petaflop of processing power -- a whopping 1000-trillion calculations per second. As I linkurl:reported; in this month's issue, one of the three other contenders for this award was the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), whose technology scouts have been eagerly -- and somewhat nervously -- awaiting NSF's decision. Their proposal would have cost more than $200 million as well and also included more than a petaflop of processing power. It would have replaced their current trusty, but aging, system, "BigBen." The other award up for grabs was a "Track Two" proposal for $65 million that went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for...

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