- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2008

NEW YORK — Following in the footsteps of Nintendo’s popular Wii Fit, the video game publisher known for the “Madden” football games is jumping into fitness software targeted mostly at women.

Electronic Arts Inc. on Thursday announced a new line, EA Sports Active, that runs on the Nintendo Wii console and aims to complement, not compete with, Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” exercise title.

Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, called the new brand, whose first title launches in March, a “somewhat radical departure from the normal game experiences we provide customers.”

EA’s sports audience has been mostly young men, who have flocked to football, soccer, basketball and hockey titles to make the company the world’s dominant player in sports video games.

But to stay competitive with rivals such as Activision Blizzard Inc., whose success with such games as World of Warcraft and Rock Band seems to be weathering the recession, EA needs to continue to expand its audience.

The company’s new brand seeks to take advantage of the popularity of the Nintendo console and of exercise games. While the Wii Fit is already enormously popular, Moore, a former physical-education teacher, said EA’s sports software will run people through an exercise routine with a more Western approach than the Japanese company’s product.

Wii Fit includes activities like running, skiing as well as yoga, and it emphasizes balance as well as fitness. EA’s products will include exercises like running and lunges, as well as simulations of sports such as tennis.

The games use straps to attach the Wii’s controller and “nunchuk” attachment to a player’s body, so the fitness routines can be performed without holding the controls. It also includes a resistance band. Titles in the line will cost about $60, the same as a regular video game.

Oak Ridge boasts fastest computer at open research

How fast is the new supercomputer at Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory? If everyone in the world performed one mathematical calculation per second, it would take 650 years to do what this machine can do in one day.

That makes the $100 million computer, nicknamed “Jaguar” by scientists, the fastest in the world for unclassified scientific research. At more than 1 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second, it is about 55,000 times faster than your typical PC.

Only one other supercomputer is faster, and it’s devoted to classified research on nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Global climate change, space matter that can’t be seen, and alternative energy - everything from improved gasoline combustion to fusion - are some of the subjects Jaguar will be used to research.

In June, Jaguar, a Cray Inc. system, was rated fifth-fastest in the world by researchers who track the 500 top supercomputers. The Oak Ridge lab, a Department of Energy facility, announced this week that it had upgraded Jaguar since then and achieved its four-year goal of 1 quadrillion calculations per second - or 1 “petaflop” - six months ahead of schedule.

Jaguar recently achieved sustained performance of more than 1.3 petaflops while churning out calculations on superconductivity and has hit a peak speed of 1.64 petaflops, the lab said.

It is still undergoing trials but should be ready by January, said Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge’s associate director for computing.

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