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Exaflop supercomputer receives full funding from Senate appropriators

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An Energy Department effort to create a super computer three orders of magnitude more powerful than today's most powerful computer--an exascale computer--would receive $126 million during the coming federal fiscal year under a Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the DOE spending bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Sept. 7 to approve the amount as part of the fiscal 2012 energy and water appropriations bill; fiscal 2011 ends on Sept. 30. The $126 million is the same as requested earlier this year in the White House budget request.

In a report accompanying the bill, Senate appropriators say Energy plans to deploy the first exascale system in 2018, despite challenges.

An exascale system made from today's technology "would probably cost $100,000,000,000, require $100,000,000 a year to operate, need its own dedicated power plant to power the computing system, and be very unreliable," the report states. A computer capable of executing an exaflop would be able to conduct one million trillion calculations per second.

Exascale computing would make possible models of phenomena currently not possible with today's tools, according to the Argonne National Laboratory, which stood up the Exascale Technology and Computing Institute in November 2010. For example, exascale supercomputers should be capable of making large scale simulations of worldwide climate change.

House appropriators, in their report accompanying the July 15 House-approved version of the fiscal 2012 energy and water spending bill, said they support exascale research, but say that Energy "has not yet aggregated exascale research components into a coherent effort."  

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for the fiscal 2012 energy and water spending bill

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