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What is a Supercomputer?
A supercomputer is defined simply as the most powerful class of computers at any point in time. Supercomputers are used to solve large and complex problems that are insurmountable by smaller, less powerful computers. Since the pioneering Cray-1 system arrived in 1976, supercomputers have made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the quality of human life. Problems of major economic, scientific and strategic importance typically are addressed by supercomputers years before becoming tractable on less-capable systems.

In conjunction with some of the world's most creative scientific and engineering minds, these formidable tools already have made automobiles safer and more fuel-efficient; located new deposits of oil and gas; saved lives and property by predicting severe storms; created new materials and life-saving drugs; powered advances in electronics and visualization; safeguarded national security; and unraveled mysteries ranging from protein-folding mechanisms to the shape of the universe.

Capable supercomputers are in short supply.

Today's supercomputer market is replete with "commodity clusters," products assembled from collections of servers or PCs. Clusters are adept at tackling small problems and large problems lacking complexity, but are inefficient at the most demanding, consequential challenges - especially those of industry. Climate research algorithms, for example, are unable to achieve high levels of performance on these computers.

The primary "design points" for today's clusters are server and PC markets, not supercomputing. Christopher Lazou, a high-performance computing consultant, explains, "Using tens of thousands of commodity chips may provide the capacity (peak flop rates) but not the capability, because of lack of memory bandwidth to a very large shared memory." Cray's product portfolio addresses this issue with high-bandwidth offerings. source:

Cray Systems at Work
Cray systems provide powerful high performance solutions for the world's most complex computational problems. The sustained performance obtained from Cray supercomputers is used by researchers and computer scientists spanning such varied disciplines as automotive manufacturing, geological sciences, climate prediction, pharmaceutical development, and national security.

Cray supercomputers are used worldwide in research, academia, industry, and government.

The Road to La-La Land - Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center researcher Pei Tang uses the Cray T3E to probe the mysteries of anesthesia.

Biomedical Modeling at the National Cancer Institute - Researchers from around the world use NCI's Cray SV1 system to solve some of the most difficult problems in computational biology -- studying protein structure and function at the most detailed levels.

Clean Power - George Richards, leader of the National Energy Technology Laboratory's combustion dynamics team, takes on the challenge of converting fuel to energy without creating pollutants by using simulations on PSC's Cray T3E.

A Thumb-Lock on AIDS - PSC's Marcela Madrid simulates an HIV enzyme on the Cray T3E to help develop drugs that shut down HIV replication. source:

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