The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a biomedical research organization, is spending $8.05 million on the construction and operation of two superbend beamlines at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) facility of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The beamlines will generate the high-energy, or hard, x-rays that are ideal for protein crystallography research. The detailed 3D views of molecules that x-ray crystallography yields will provide a powerful framework for understanding how molecules function and interact.The new superbends, scheduled for installation in 2001, will consist of superconducting magnets. These magnets will steer the path of an accelerated beam of electrons around turns that are sharper than the turns that conventional bend magnets can achieve. It is anticipated that the superbends will yield x-rays as high as 50 keV in energy.
The model-based computing project now under way at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is attempting to streamline the writing of software for electromechanical systems. It aims to develop compositional, declarative models of the various components of a system at different levels of granularity. These models can then be composed according to the system's design to yield a system model. Software architectures and generic algorithms also are developed according to the tasks, such as design evaluation, scheduling, simulation, or machine control, that must be done. The architectures and algorithms are linked via special-purpose reasoners that can produce the right kind of task for a specific task-based architecture, given the component models and system configuration. Researchers hope to apply this technology to reprographic machine development.
IBM's researchers have developed what may be the world's first supercomputer powered by copper chips—the RS/6000 SP. The new SP node is based on the 64-bit, 375-MHz POWER3-II microprocessor, a reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) chip developed for IBM's RS/6000 servers and workstations. While the chip targets analysis and simulation programs used by aerospace, automobile, and drug manufacturers, it's also optimized for data-intensive applications like data mining. According to a recent SPECfp-rate95 benchmark, an SP configured with 64 POWER3-II processors almost doubles the floating-point performance of similarly configured Sun E10000 and SGI/Cray Origin 2000 computers. A version of the new computer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) contains 144 nodes and 1152 processors.