Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. said Monday it will develop and market the first general purpose supercomputer, a machine the company says will solve "real-world" modeling and simulation problems in everything from drug research to design of integrated circuits.

The company said the new machine, to be launched later this year by its computer division in Mountain View, Calif., will be the fastest general purpose supercomputer available, with scalar performance the type required in most scientific applications that surpasses even the highlypublicized Cray supercomputers.The company said a fully configured E&S supercomputer will provide the equivalent power of more than 60 IBM 3090 computers, the high end of the IBM line.

E&S said the system's price tag, ranging from $3 million to $8 million, will make complex modeling and simulation affordable for a new class of users and applications.

The machine also represents the first time that computer graphics of the caliber pioneered by Evans & Sutherland will be integrated with a general-purpose supercomputer.

E&S President David C. Evans said the new general-purpose supercomputer is the logical next step for the company he founded 20 years ago.

"Our vision has always been to provide the most advanced modeling and simulation tools available, tools such as our flight simulators, which are 100 times faster and more complex than the largest supercomputers, although limited to a specific application," said Evans.

"What we and the marketplace were missing, however, was a general-purpose computing system that could handle the most complex modeling and simulation applications in a much broader segment of science and industry. Our new computer division is developing that machine."

Evans said the driving force behind the high-performance computing movement is the need of scientists and engineers to perform mathematical modeling: simulating with a computer the way complex processes or devices will behave in real life.

The ability to model these processes with computers represents a leap forward in science and engineering a leap that Evans said will have a major impact on every technical discipline from drug research to integrated circuit design.

The potential benefits of this approach are enormous, he said: faster time to market, reduced reliance on costly prototyping, better quality, and most importantly, the ability to solve previously unsolvable problems.

Evans said the supercomputer's design is based on the company's 20 years of experience in the field with customers such as Grumman, Ford, the National Institutes of Health, Du Pont and most branches of the U.S. government.

Evans said existing high-performance computers, including Cray-class supercomputers and recent offerings in the superworkstation and mini-supercomputer categories, are either too specialized or too slow to fulfill the growing modeling and simulation needs of science and industry.

He said the key to the E&S machine's breakthrough performance is a moderately parallel architecture that allows each of its computational units to handle different segments of a problem or different problems concurrently. Each computational unit of which there are 32 in a minimum configuration has the power of a mini-supercomputer.