NEWS RELEASE, 8/19/97
Intel Corp. donates $6 million worth of computer equipment to enhance research and teaching at UC Berkeley
Berkeley -- Six million dollars worth of computer equipment will begin arriving on the UC Berkeley campus this month, thanks to a grant from Intel Corp. that will make high-performance parallel computing available to a broad range of departments that have until now had scarce or no access.
The grant was part of Intel's Technology for Education 2000 program, a three-year, $85 million grant program in support of higher education. Intel announced grants of up to $6.2 million to each of 12 universities Monday (8/18) in a first-round selection totaling $67.2 million.
The goal of TechEd 2000 is to bolster university research and curriculum development and help place PCs, workstations, servers and networking hardware based on Intel Architecture in key research universities throughout the United States.
"This vastly improves the computing infrastructure for research and education," said James Demmel, professor of computer science and mathematics and principle investigator for the UC Berkeley project, called Millennium. "It will enable high-performance computing in many departments that previously only dreamed of it."
With fast parallel computers at their disposal, UC Berkeley scientists will conduct more simulations of real world events as an adjunct to theory and experiment. Among those to benefit are business professors interested in complex financial computations, biologists creating evolutionary family trees, astrophysicists modeling star formation, and information specialists creating "digital" libraries for the next century.
"The computing will allow simulation of events that we can't afford to do experimentally," Demmel said.
Demmel and co-principal investigator David Culler, professor of computer science, will take the Intel hardware -- primarily Pentium processors, the guts of high-performance desktop computers -- and develop the hardware and software to build a range of computers for the campus. These include desktop computers for individual users, small 20-processor parallel machines for departments, and one large 250-processor parallel computer to be shared by researchers across the campus.
In addition, they and other computer science faculty members will supply parallel computing software developed at UC Berkeley.
For its part, the campus has agreed to provide $1.5 million of its own, primarily in staff hours, to assemble the computers, develop software and maintain the networks.
Parallel computers are arrays of individual computers that work together to solve a problem, splitting the computation among each computer and continually sharing data and information. Standard, non-parallel computers solve problems sequentially, in a linear, step-by-step process.
One of the great advantages of parallel computers is that they are cheaper than the large mainframes and supercomputers, allowing complex computing for less money.
Computer scientists at UC Berkeley have pioneered a unique parallel architecture called NOW (for Network of Workstations) that until now has been operating with Sun machines using the UNIX operating system. Culler says the NOW architecture will be adapted to work with Intel's Pentium processors using either UNIX or Microsoft's NT operating system.
A significant part of the Millennium project will be conducted in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. For example, the center will adapt sophisticated software tools from its library for use on the campus system.
"One of the most exciting aspects of Millennium is the potential to demonstrate that you can take a large number mass-market commodity PCs and networks, harness them together with some special software, and get a powerful supercomputer for less than the current prices of supercomputers," said Bill Saphir of the center's Future Technologies Group.
Some of the innovative uses include:
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