A supercomputer billed as the world's most advanced computer system is to go fully operational Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View.
The primary purpose of the computer will be to simulate actual aircraft flight--doing with a computer what historically has been done in a wind tunnel. But the system will also be used for computational chemistry, weather modeling, astrophysics and biological research.
The system, which will be available to scientists at 27 locations throughout the country, is called the Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation supercomputer. NASA has taken steps to ensure that it will remain the most advanced system in the world and one of the most powerful, according to Ames officials.
The heart of the system is a Cray-2 computer, believed to be the world's most powerful computer. It is capable of a sustained 250 million computations per second and top speeds of 1.72 billion computations per second.
According to Ames, the system will be increased to a sustained 1 billion computations per second capability in 1988 with the acquisition of a second high-speed computer. Two computers will be used at all times, and as more powerful computers become available, the weaker of the two will be replaced, ensuring that the system remains the world leader, according to Ames spokesman Peter Waller.