IBM Blue Gene/P Supercomputer Comes to U.S.

IBM is looking to bring the first of its Blue Gene/P system supercomputers to North America with an agreement to build a new machine at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, the company announced Nov. 1.

When it’s complete, the supercomputer at Argonne will offer a peak performance of 445 teraflops, or 445 trillion calculations per second. When the new supercomputer is added to Argonne’s current system, the laboratory will then have 556 teraflops of computing performance at its disposal, according to Big Blue.

IBM first announced that it would begin building Blue Gene/P system supercomputers at the Supercomputer Conference in Dresden, Germany, on June 26. These will eventually replace the older Blue Gene/L system supercomputer. The Armonk, N.Y., company is currently building its first Blue Gene/P system at the Julich Research Center in Germany.

When it first announced Blue Gene/P, IBM said it would be able to offer a sustained performance of a petaflop, or 1 quadrillion calculations per second. However, the ability to reach a petaflop depends on how many server racks a facility such as Argonne is willing to install. An IBM spokesperson said the company is not sure which of its Blue Gene/P systems will hit the petaflop mark first.

Click here to read more about IBM’s efforts to build ever larger supercomputers.

Currently, the world’s fastest supercomputer is a Blue Gene/L system at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., which runs at 280.6 teraflops.

When it’s complete—by mid-2008—the supercomputer at Argonne will be used for a number of research projects that need large-scale computing environments, according to the DOE.

The field of supercomputing is getting more intense as more and more companies look to expand beyond the current crop of high-performance systems. In addition to IBM, Sun Microsystems is working on a supercomputer dubbed Constellation that also looks to break the petaflop barrier. And on Oct. 25, NEC announced its new SX-9 supercomputer that will offer a peak performance of 839 teraflops.

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