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To expand the research community's access to supercomputers, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has begun a program to match researchers who require the capabilities of a supercomputer with those facilities that have such computer resources available.

Recent studies on computer needs in scientific and engineering research underscore the need for greater access to supercomputers (Eos, July 6, 1982, p. 562), especially those categorized as “Class VI” machines. Complex computer models for research on astronomy, the oceans, and the atmosphere often require such capabilities. In addition, similar needs are emerging in the earth sciences: A Union session at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco this week will focus on the research computing needs of the geosciences. A Class VI supercomputer has a memory capacity of at least 1 megaword, a speed of upwards of 100 MFLOPS (million floating point operations per second), and both scalar and vector registers in the CPU (central processing unit). Examples of Class VI machines are the CRAY-1 and the CYBER 205. The high costs o f these machines, the most powerful ones available, preclude most research facilities from owning one.