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ASCI's Debutante Debut 99

yoshi writes "Apparently, Lawrence Livermore Lab had an open house yesterday for ASCI White, the world's most powerful computer, and CNN has a story on it, including a picture of one of the sys admins! One of the great things about the system is how much information is available. Check out the hardware and software environments."
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ASCII's Debutante Debut

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  • "Can you imagine a beowulf cluster of these?"
    "Does it run linux?"
    "can I get root?"
    "(AYBABTU clone on ASCI white)"

    Now lets get some real discussions going here...

  • "The mammoth computer is 1,000 times more powerful than Deep Blue, which defeated chess grand master Garry Kasparov in 1997."
    So do we get to see this computer beat another chess champion?
  • With that kind of power, there's got to be some kind of emergent intelligence in there.

    Hey ASCI, what's the meaning of life?

    Dancin Santa
  • Check out the vampir pre-processor. Notice how it runs parallel in-sync with the nearest node? I've been waiting forever for someone to try that. I can't believe they figured that out.
  • I like the idea that this computer is necessary in order to "simulate how the nation's aging nuclear weapons arsenal would function if launched". Perhaps this means we could just fight the whole nuclear war inside a few of these machines.

  • She got really drunk at the party and was last seen leaving with a VIC20

    That VIC's a sly little devil.

  • can you imagine a beowu...hell, can you imagine ONE of these things?
    this is one hell of alot of power
  • Install that into a 87 black Trans-am!
  • sigh (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by jon_c ( 100593 )
    from the home page...

    The DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) is building simulation capabilities to predict performance, safety, and manufacturability of U.S. nuclear weapons systems. The program has several mandates, among them:

    Determine nuclear weapons' behavior upon deployment using high-resolution, three-dimensional calculations and high-fidelity physical models.

    Monitor possible accident scenarios and changes to stockpiled weapons caused by the aging process and variations in the manufacturing of replacement parts.

    Extend the lifetime of existing nuclear weapons systems into the indefinite future.

    Reduce the overall uncertainty associated with the costs and risks of weapons testing.

    Don't htey have anything better to do with all that power?

    • Re:sigh (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Don't htey have anything better to do with all that power?

      Do you realize what you're asking here?

      Some geeks created the most powerful computer in the world and are using it to simulate blowing things up.

      What could possibly be better than that?
    • by darkPHi3er ( 215047 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @04:25AM (#2171771) Homepage
      "Don't they have anything better to do with all that power?"

      Yeah! Brother, i know what you mean...what an astonishing waste of computer productivity!

      can you imagine ***ANYONE*** take cutting-edge start of the art h+s/w and using it to create and develop a wide variety of different and imagined scenarios where a large assortment of weapons of differing powers of destructiveness are used on imaginary foes, hour after hour after...., day after day after...????

      and futher imagine that simlarly creative people on the background had to create the deployment scenarios (call them the maps or levels?) and use their powers of imagination to create fantatically unlikely foes and enemies that could never exist in the real world. Yeah Verily, a horrible waste of precious talent and ability

      BUT, i understand that they're just biding their time with that awful "nuclear contingency" stuff at LLNL, until the Q3Team(EntireUniverse) port to ASCI White is finished and then they'll productively game all day instead....
    • Yeah, like get Quake 3 running on this baby. You'll be the talk of the LAN party.
    • Don't they have anything better to do with all that power?
      Maybe they will give the next ASCI White to CmdrTaco to run SlashDot on.
    • look on the bright side, at least they're not using it to spam people! ;)
    • Don't htey have anything better to do with all that power?

      I think using it to run a spell/grammar checker on all slashdot articles and comments prior to posting would be a laudable goal.

  • Isn't this "most powerfull" computer thing getting a bit out of hand? When we start questioning 1 billion FPUs vs. 4 trillion IPUs, where do we point at the leader?

    • Easy
      The second most powerful computer will get us the answer to the question of life, the universa, and everything, which we all know is 42, while the most powerful computer will get us the question itself, so we will know how the 42 got to be the answer.
    • There is a theory that there are two parallel universes. One universe knows the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything, but does not know the answer. The other universe knows the answer to the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything, but does not know the question.

      Should the question and the answer ever be present in the same universe at the same time, both universes would instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more inexplicable.

      There is another theory that states that this has already happened.

      [ A better eulogy to Douglas Adams, I can not think of. ]

  • How many Gkeys do you think this thing could go through in about an hour or so??
  • They should have called it WarGames.
    • Just for fun I started rotating the letters in ASCI backwards... How much relation to "WOPR" (War Operations Planned Response) was there?

      50% match, 2 first letters:


      Not nearly as funny as rotating IBM backwards to get HAL was, but...

  • by ffattizzi ( 516177 ) < minus punct> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @04:38AM (#2171785)
    I sure hope they don't waste all those extra CPU cycles. Someone throw a RC5/SETI client on there.

    Probably should get permission first though...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Believe me, on systems like this, CPU cycles don't get wasted. Jobs are constantly queued up for any spare processor time. Just the cost of the power that White draws is too great to justify leaving it idle for any period of time.
  • theory VS fact (Score:2, Insightful)

    by martissimo ( 515886 )
    sure this is one hell of a rig, and you can plug in all the theoretical numbers you like to predict what would happen if these theoretical numbers are *accurate*

    But the reason they actually tested nukes is because they needed to find out if the theoretical numbers are coorect in the first place right?

    I mean if they allready knew what percentage of errors would occur and why they occured they wouldnt need to test in the first place, unless im missing something really big this will be the worlds most advanced *garbage in - garbage out* dependent system. but hey its still one hell of a cool toy!
    • But the reason they actually tested nukes is because they needed to find out if the theoretical numbers are coorect in the first place right?

      ~60 years ago there was indeed a need to test in order to verify the that the physical constants used were known correctly and that the mathematical models used for the weapons designs predicted things as anticipated. They got that stuff figured out and verified quite some time ago.

      Consider that all thermonuclear weapons contain fissionable material that is constantly undergoing radioactive decay. How long can it sit in a bunker and still be relied on to function as designed?

      I for one am very glad that they can use machines such as this to explore possibilities without having to go out and actually detonate one of the damn things.

    • I am completely bewildered at your lack of understanding of the world. Nothing in the world is certain to happen all of the time...Physical laws are in place that take into account the fact that all variables of a problem are under control except for the ones being tested. The truth is that things in the universe only occur multiple times the same because they have the hightest probability of occuring the same way twice. Nothing can be 100% relied upon (although the chances in the non-quantum world are infinitesimal small and can usually be put to rest at 0. That is not the case with this computer's use since it is predicting things all the way to the quantum level.)

      So, what you are saying is that...Let's say GM designs a NEW Braking system for their cars. If they followed your line of thinking, then all they would have to do is just plug some simple and already known numbers into Newton's Laws of Motion...and *presto*...No need for running tests or simulations. Right? What do you think would have been the case if Firestone had the chance to run "super-computer class" calculations and predictions on their tires before putting them on Ford Explorers? About 1000 or more people who wouldn't be buried 6 feet under ground while their loved ones hurt forever over their death.

      The point is that nothing in the world can be 100% predicted for the future. You could blow up 10,000 Hydrogen Bombs, fill sheets full of data, and still not be 100% sure that the 10,001 time the bomb would do something completely different. You cannot predict the future after a short period of time...simple Probability. What ASCI White is for is to help gain as much knowledge about what could happen to all of these munitions over time or during war. If everything in the world were linear and predictable...Well, you and I would still be swinging in trees as apes or swimming in the ocean as fish.
      Please don't think with ignorance or pretending that everything that can be known is known...because the one time you time you need to slam on your brakes to avoid an accident, you better hope that someone did a whole shitload of simulations on that braking system to make sure it saves your live. Preferably not by putting cars with untested brakes into traffic :-)
  • Sweet ride... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @05:11AM (#2171808) Homepage

    The last place I worked, IBM Storage Systems Division here in Tucson, had a bunch of these class of machines.. The test cell where I worked (for most of the time) was a roughly square area lined with 13 RAID arrays usually loaded top to bottom with 15K 72GB drives down one side, 3 IBM SP/1s (The same boxes that handed Kasparov his ass a year or two ago..) about 10 RS/6000's of varying horsepower, and a couple desks. One of the racks had exclusively nothing but 16-port Brocades in them, and what seemed like a mile of fibrechannel cable spewing out of it. I remember one slow day in particular, a friend of mine at work sat there, looked around, and tried to figure out how much money the company had stuffed in our little 9 by 14-square test cell in order for us to conduct our testing on the arrays... At $86,000 a piece, the Brocade rack was the priciest piece of real-estate in the lab, weighing in at $1.12 million dollars, or about $300,000 per square foot of floor space. Just within eyesight, we were encased within close to $20 million dollars worth of hardware, not including cables and the small stuff.

    The Whopper may be King in the Land of Burgers, but IBM is God when it comes big iron. ;)

  • I really like this part:

    ASCI White is roughly as powerful as 50,000 desktop computers. It can store the equivalent of 300 million books, or six Libraries of Congress.
    • I once computed that one could compress the all the text contained in the Library of Congress into a box of CD-Roms that could fit in the trunk of a Miata. With current technology, it could fit into a medium-sized sample case.
  • I see ASCI White runs AIX and IBM said gladly replace AIX with Linux someday [] so we could see the fastest computers running Linux not too soon.
    • Yeah - they've been running it for around a year, off and on. Do you know of any better way to test a massively parallel clustered supercomputer in a useful way? Play BattleChess 3000? Gosh I love it when the rooks eat the queens
  • ASCI's Debutante Debut

    I first read that as "ASCII's Debut"... sorry, Slashdot, you're about 30 years late reporting that one!
  • has a cool walpaper of ASCII White but they are down again so I can't get the URL right now.
  • Anyone else notice that that machine has, total, about 10 terabytes of memory? Damn. They must have gotten one hell of a deal from
  • A lot of people compilain about wasting all the cycles this monster can do on researching nukes. First, this thing would take a month to calculate the first tenth of a second - having to compute every quark, lepton, and electon in a nuclear bomb. At that level we already know (almost) any physics there is, so it becomes a huge billiard-ball problem.

    Second - these machines only work on simulated nuclear testing for a short while (a few years). Then they go up for other "Grand Challange" problems, like immense weather calculation machines (who wouldn't want to know the exact minute it starts raining in your neighborhood?), particle calculations for the solar system or the galaxy, etc. We're up in arms about ASCI White, but what about ASCI Red, Blue, Mountain?

    Furthermore, the research involved to build something like this benifits us down the line. Super-advanced routers, ultra-fast fail-safe network storage, improved networked processor topologies, distributed algorithms.

  • The most important fact about this computer is that it is used to study how best to kill people and destroy their property.

    • Why does a post like this get modded up?

      Sometimes I just do not understand the thought process of moderators. This post is utterly misguided, naive, and uninformed. Sigh.

      I'm sure I'll get modded down as a troll now, how droll.
  • Some folks in this thread have already mentioned SETI@Home, but I thought I'd point out that the collective (albeit highly specialized) processing power of the current SETI@Home array is twice that of ASCI White. []

  • So how long would a kernel compile take? Half a second? Less?
  • The title page and story header say ASCI. The link above the comments and the <TITLE> on the Post Comment page say ASCII (youre a few decades late to be reporting ASCIIs debut, mind you). Someones corrections arent proliferating correctly.
  • Finally a computer that meets the minimum requriements for Windows XP.
  • he funny bit is that, we'll probably get the same power on our PC in about 30 or 40 years ... Now close your eyes and imagine what you could do with this little baby at home ... PLAY GAMES ;o)
  • I should check my own site more often - and so should everyone here :) []

    • If you did, you'd realize the article is blatantly incorrect:

      "In designing ASCI White and its predecessors, IBM technicians had to create a network of over 48 Silicon Graphics Origin 2000 shared memory multi-processor computers which they sold to the Department of Energy for $A110 million."

      Undoubtedly, those are RS/6000s.
  • This is a test (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by krow ( 129804 )
    This is just me testing comments.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.