SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 13 -- The National Science Foundation has earmarked $53 million for building and operating a supercomputing system that will be spread over several sites around the nation. The Distributed Terascale Facility will be capable of 11.6 trillion calculations per second and will store more than 450 trillion bytes of data. Each site will be linked via a super-fast fiber optic network. Once the network becomes fully operational in 2003, researchers and engineers will be able to access computing resources typically found only at major universities or national computing centers. "This is the largest computing infrastructure ever deployed to support open scientific research," said Dan Reed, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. The clusters will be spread over four sites: NCSA, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The sites will be connected by a 40 billion b/s optical network that is 16 times faster than any research network available today.