Anton: 512-Processor Supercomputer Being Built to Simulate Molecules, Drugs

Named for microbiology pioneer Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Anton is currently being built with 512 highly specialized processors. These are clocked at just 400MHz, and the machine has modest memory, but its architecture lets it process problems in a massively-parallel way. Ultimately, that'll offer a performance boost of 1000x over current complex molecular simulations. And that's great news: these bits of math are how drug design works. It's different to processing done by existing supercomputers like BlueGene/L in that it will look at molecular behavior over a longer interval. That means scientists could discover new biological processes. "If you can do 1,000 times longer, real proteins come into play" as team leader David Shaw puts it. Anton should be in operation later this year. [ACM Library via NYTimes]