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Intel CTO Rattner talks about building the first teraflop computer

Justin Rattner, Intel VP and CTO, talks about building his first calculator at 12 and the world's first teraflop computer in 1996.

ASCI Red System Decommissioning<br><br>Photo by: Paul Edward Sanchez - Sandia National Laboratories

Before Justin R. Rattner was vice president and chief technology officer at Intel, we was an engineer and did pioneering work on supercomputers, including the ASCI Red System.

Located at Sandia National Laboratories, ASCI Red was the first computer to sustain one trillion operations per second (one teraFLOPS), and between 1997 and 2000 it was the world's fastest computer according to the TOP500 project. ASCI Red was used to run simulations of nuclear explosions as of the part of the National Nuclear Security Administration's Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program. It was decommissioned in 2006.

In June 2010, Rattner discussed what inspired him to build ASCI Red with Big Think. During the 4-minute interview, posted on Big Think's YouTube channel, Rattner also explained what sparked his interest in math and science.

"I built my first computer, or calculator I guess more accurately, when I was 12 and I had to learn about binary arithmetic and how computers did arithmetic. And that really took me into learning new things about math and certainly electrical engineering because it was all part of creating that calculator."

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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

3 comments
Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In June 2010 interview with Big Think, Justin Rattner, Intel VP and CTO, talked about building his first calculator at 12 and the world's first teraflop computer in 1996. ?I built my first computer, or calculator I guess more accurately, when I was 12 and I had to learn about binary arithmetic and how computers did arithmetic. And that really took me into learning new things about math and certainly electrical engineering because it was all part of creating that calculator.? What was the first computer, calculator, or gadget that you built?

zackers
zackers

Back in 1982 or so, a professor from the EE department at Cal Poly Pomona came over to the computer science department and taught a basic computer hardware design course. As part of that course each of us wirewrapped a simple computer from discrete parts using the professor's design. While it wasn't groundbreaking, it gave me a far more thorough understanding of computers at the bit level than most CS majors get. I still have it around somewhere. That professor (Dan Nesin) later got me my first job after graduating in which his course was invaluable. You can never overestimate the influence some teachers have in your life.

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

The first one I ever really built from the case up was a P4 white box machine when I was an IT intern. Baically the company had bought the Motherboard and never did anyhting with it. I found it and put it in a gutted case, and built the machine out of spare parts and left overs from dead machines. I never really had the money to go out and buy parts and build from scratch myself when I was a kid. Although I do remember completly taking apart my holld Packard Bell machine and reassembling it.

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