IBM claims title to world's fastest supercomputer

IBM Corp. has announced it has built a supercomputer that surpasses the performance of the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, the computer widely regarded as the world's most powerful.

'Essentially what we have done is put together a very, very large number of reasonably powered processors,' said Eric Kronstadt, IBM's director of exploratory server systems.

This prototype computer will be part of a much larger system the company is scheduled to deliver to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories next May.

Using the Linpack benchmark, IBM measured a sustained 36.01 trillion floating-point operations per second from its IBM BlueGene/L System. This benchmark beats the Earth Simulator's 35.86 TFLOPS, the rating from the most recent Top500.Org, a list of the top 500 supercomputers.

The computer delivered to LLNL will run more than 130,000 processors and take up 64 racks. That model will offer a peak performance of 360 TFLOPS, the company predicts. The lab will use the computer for modeling turbulence, shock and other complicated physics phenomena.

IBM says the new system is extremely space and power efficient. The LLNL system will occupy a space about the size of half a tennis court, about 1/20th the space that would be consumed by more traditional supercomputer designs, the company claims. The company also asserts its computer uses less power than Japan's system, requiring 216 kilowatts to operate, compared to Earth Simulator's 6,000 kilowatts

IBM benchmarked the maximum peak performance of IBM BlueGene/L System at just over 45 TFLOPS, also besting the Earth Simulator, which weighed in at just under 41 TFLOPS, according to the June 2004 supercomputer rating. The system, housed in IBM's production facility in Rochester, Minn., uses 16,000 PowerPC-based processors, and runs Linux.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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