Energy takes title of world's fastest computer

Energy takes title of world's fastest computer

The Energy Department has announced that one of its supercomputers, BlueGene/L, has achieved a faster operational rate than any other supercomputer publicly known.

Running the Linpack benchmark, BlueGene/L managed to execute 70.72 trillion floating point operations per second, though the department did not say if that was a peak or a sustained performance. Sustained thoughput is normally lower than peak.

IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., is building the machine, which is still under construction and resides at an IBM research lab in Rochester, Minn. It is only one-fourth finished, according to the agency. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will use the computer to simulate the long-term effects of nuclear stockpiles.

The news comes just weeks after NASA announced that a new computer it commissioned, named Columbia in honor the crew of the fallen space shuttle, had reached a sustained rate of 42.7 teraflops.

Columbia edged out the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, which formerly held the title of fastest supercomputer. That unit, built by NEC Corp., can run at a sustained rate of 35.86 teraflops, according to the simulator manager's submission to Top500.org, which ranks the top 500 supercomputers.

On Monday, the team that runs the Top 500 list will announce its newest rankings. Unless other contenders have surreptitiously submitted results of even faster machines, BlueGene/L will likely top the list.

Last month, NEC announced that it would offer machines capable of 65 teraflops, but it has not indicated that it has actually built any of these new computers yet.

About the Author

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

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