Proposed Export Rules on Supercomputers Unrealistic (285)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The sale of supercomputers to countries hostile to United States interests should be restricted but limits experts have proposed to Congress are unrealistic, a University of Tennessee scientist said Friday.

 Dr. Jack Dongarra, UT-Knoxville Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, said limits recently proposed to a House-Senate conference committee will soon be meaningless because technology will out date them.

 In a letter to the committee Dongarra removed himself from the its experts panel after other members of the group recommended basing restraints on a fixed level of computer processing power.

 “The limits soon will be meaningless. They are almost meaningless today,” Dongarra said he advised the committee. “Technology is improving at a rate that doubles performance every 18 months.

 “It has reached the point that an off-the-shelf computer from any local store will soon be approaching some of these limits.”

 A more effective limit would be 100 times the capability of an off-the-shelf microprocessor currently on the market, Dongarra said.

 The proposed limit for military use is the equivalent of roughly seven personal computers, Dongarra said. “I find it hard to believe such a limit can be effectively enforced.”

 Export limits are being considered by the House-Senate conference on the Defense Authorization Bill. No decision has been reached.

 Contact: Dr. Jack Dongarra (423-974-8295)