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[July 07, 2006]

Korean-Owned Firm to Provide Supercomputer for US Nuke Project

(Korea Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) By Cho Jin-seo

A Korean-owned company has won a contract to supply a top-end supercomputer to a nuclear weapons research lab in the United States.

Appro, a California-based firm headed by Daniel Kim (Kim Geun-bum), said it won the Peloton supercomputing project from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory last week. The company said the supercomputer, which is made up of a total of 16,126 central processing units (CPUs), will be used in various types of nuclear weapons experiments. Theoretically, the machine is capable of performing 100 trillion calculations per second.

The Livermore laboratory is a branch of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is responsible for research and development of nuclear warheads and propulsion systems.

``The computer will be used in the unclassified sector as a multi-programmatic and institutional resource and in the classified environment to solve complex computational problems related to the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program,'' the company said in a statement. ``This program ensures the safety, security and reliability of the national nuclear deterrent.''

Appro was founded in 1991 by Kim, who graduated from Sogang University in Seoul before enrolling in the University of Missouri where he received a master's degree in business administration. Since 1991, Kim has propelled the company into becoming one of the leading server and clustering systems companies in the United States.

In 2003, Kim also acquired the major share of Uniwide, a Korean company in the same business sector. Uniwide said that it supplied a large part of Peloton's supercomputer equipment such as motherboards and frameworks. The two companies share technologies and know-how in designing and manufacturing supercomputers, said Kwon Chang-sun, the manager of public relations at Uniwide.

``The Korean market is much smaller than the U.S. market, so we haven't sold this kind of large supercomputer here. But as we are sister companies, the Peloton supercomputer project benefits us greatly, too,'' he said.

Livermore is also known for possessing two of the world's three most powerful supercomputers, including the no.1 machine ``Blue Gene,'' which is used in performing virtual nuclear tests instead of actual underground experiments.

Appro's supercomputer will consist of a total of 16,128 central processing units (CPUs). Over the past few years, it has become a trend to assemble a cluster of thousands of CPUs to make a super-fast computing machine.

The company didn't disclose the amount of the contract, but Kwon said it will be slightly less than 30 billion won.

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