June 26, 2007

IBM and Sun develop pentaflop computers

by Jan Harris

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IBM has developed a new Blue Gene supercomputer which will be able to process up to three quadrillion operations a second, or three petaflops.

In real life situations, the Blue Gene/P, will be able to operate continuously at more than one petaflop.

The Blue Gene/P wrests the title of most powerful computer on earth from the Blue Gene/L, which can operate at a mere 280 teraflops, or 280 trillion operations a second during continuous operation.

Blue Gene/P is a Linux cluster system. It has four 850-MHz PowerPC 450 processors integrated on a single chip.

The configuration is a 294,912-processor, 72-rack system harnessed to a high-speed, optical network. A new SMP mode supports multithreaded applications.

Blue Gene/P is at least seven times more energy efficient than any other supercomputer.

Following close on IBM’s heels in the supercomputer race is Sun Microsystems Inc.

Sun has secured a $59 million contract from the University of Texas for its Constellation design which provides 21 million floating-point operations per second, potentially reaching 2 petaflops.

Sun will install the Constellation at the Texas Advanced Computing Center along with other supercomputers.

It is a Linux cluster system and will have 3,288 nodes, starting out with 26,304 processing cores, using AMD’s forthcoming Barcelona 4-core Opteron design, mounted on Sun blades.

Ultimately, there will be 1,302 Opterons providing 52,608 cores. The system components are connected by InfiniBand.

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