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By | Ashlee Vance 7th May 2008 17:30

NASA confirms manned mission to 10 Petaflops

'Our Xeon binge is named Pleiades'

Well, well, well. It would seem that the 20,000-core supercomputer announced yesterday by NASA will just be the first course in an ongoing relationship between the space folk, SGI and Intel.

The three organizations have revealed a project dubbed Pleiades that will see them build Petaflop-class machines in the coming years. NASA reckons that such machines will be needed to fuel the manned missions to the moon and eventually Mars. In addition, it will look to use the gear for scientific research in a number of other related fields.

We're told that the 20,000 core Xeon-based system being built now at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California will serve as the basis for the first Pleiades supercomputer. But where the new machine is set to hit 245 Teraflops, the first Pleiades system due in 2009 will hit 1,000 Teraflops or a Petaflop. The organizations look to push that to 10 Petaflops by 2012.

SGI has a long-standing relationship with NASA Ames and could certainly use this type of business. And Intel makes out pretty well too.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, AMD had been winning most of the recent massive supercomputer deals with more than 10,000 Opterons making their way to a supercomputer in Texas and another at Los Alamos National Lab.

Intel, however, just busted into the formerly AMD-only Cray account, which means that Xeon should pop up in a number of the world's largest computers come 2011.

The SGI deal adds to this momentum, placing Intel right in the midst of the Petaflop race.

The Register's Silicon Valley staff will be looking out their office windows for all the Altix-carrying trucks heading to NASA over the coming months. Do give us a tour, boys. ®

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