IBM Unveils the Fastest Supercomputer in the World

Blue Gene/P is finally here

By on June 27th, 2007 17:56 GMT
And according to IBM, the new CPU mayhem is three times as fast as the older Blue Gene/L architecture. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon now, isn't it? And if you don't get the "Sunday afternoon" concept, let me detail it a bit.

IBM has been working on this new (yet it remains modular) design for maybe a year. Things haven't been easy on the heat / power consumption side since the P series integrates four chips per core (instead of two for the Blue Gene/L series) but they managed to roll out this impressive machine quicker than anyone expected. And for a 3-petaflop capable PC, a year can only be translated into a "Sunday afternoon".

The Blue Gene/L took a lot longer to complete and it barely breached the 1-peta flop mark. And the P series is indeed three times as fast while consuming roughly the same amount of power. A single Blue Gene/P chip has four PPC chips @ 850MHz running inside its die. 32 chips can be integrated inside a single board while 32 boards can be plugged in inside a single rack unit.

Currently the Blue Gene/P uses a 294,912-processor, 72-rack system in order to achieve the 1-petaflop mark but due to its modular design it can quickly be scaled to a 3-petaflop machine (884,736-processor, 216-rack cluster). Regarding the new Blue Gene/P, Dave Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM stated:

"Blue Gene/P marks the evolution of the most powerful supercomputing platform the world has ever known. A new group of commercial users will be able to take advantage of its new, simplified programming environment and unrivaled energy efficiency. We see commercial interest in the Blue Gene supercomputer developing now in energy and finance, for example. This is on course with an adoption cycle -- from government labs to leading enterprises -- that we've seen before in the high-performance computing market."

Regarding the deployment of the future Blue Gene/P supercomputer a lot can be said since several research institutes have already announced that they are planning to use a copy of this unit. The U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., will be the first to use a Blue Gene/P supercomputer in the U.S. beginning later this year with the Max Planck Society and Forschungszentrum Julich from Germany also planning to begin the install procedures of a Blue Gene/P machine by the end of 2007. More are expected to do the same at the beginning of 2008.

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