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UA now home to massive supercomputer known as 'El Gato'

"El Gato" is shown shortly after installation. (University of Arizona Communications Office Photo)

PHOENIX -- The University of Arizona is home to a new supercomputing system, thanks in part to a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

It's called the Extremely Large Advanced Technology system, otherwise known as "El Gato."

"El Gato was ranked as the 336th most powerful computer on Earth," said Assistant Astronomy Professor Brant Robertson. "It's about 150 teraflops of power."

The power makes the machine a math whiz.

"A teraflop means that it can do one trillion additions or multiplications per second," Robertson said. "So El Gato can do 150 times a trillion calculations per second."

Robertson said El Gato is about the size of three refrigerators and astronomers will be using it to study a lot of things.

"We're interested in the formation of galaxies," he said. "We're interested in the evolution of the universe, and large scale structures in the universe. We're interested in the motions of gas within the galaxy, star formation, and matter on super massive black holes."

Robertson said the astronomy department won't be the only ones using El Gato.

"Thirty percent of the time, it will be available to anyone who does research at the University of Arizona," he said, including both faculty and students.

El Gato was installed at the UA Research Data Center late last year.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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