DARPA Selects IBM for Supercomputing Grand Challenge

$244 Million Award Will Help Fulfill Goals of DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) Program

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ARMONK, NY - 21 Nov 2006: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded IBM (NYSE: IBM) a four-year $244 million award to develop a machine that provides 100 times the sustained performance of today's general purpose supercomputers and is dramatically simpler to program, administer and use. IBM expects the project to support DARPA's goals of increasing productivity and enabling the United States to achieve long-term technological leadership while opening up the complex world of supercomputing to a broader audience of scientists and businesses.

The DARPA award will substantially increase research and development activities into mainline IBM technologies planned to be delivered in 2010 and beyond, such as an upcoming generation of the POWER processor (POWER7), the AIX® operating system, IBM's General Parallel File System, IBM's Parallel Environment, and IBM's Interconnect and Storage Subsystems -- technologies that are key to IBM's commercial product portfolio.

"IBM, DARPA and the mission partners will collaborate to develop a powerful and innovative design that will enhance the ability of supercomputers to help government, businesses and individuals," said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president, IBM Systems and Technology Group. "We believe this new system will accelerate scientific breakthroughs, improve our nation's competitiveness and create new market opportunities."

A Holistic Approach to Petascale Computing

One of the most significant barriers to sustained performance of more than a thousand trillion calculations per second -- called petascale computing -- is achieving the scalability of the hardware and software across a broad set of existing applications. The goal of the technologies delivered under this contract is to allow a wide spectrum of current applications and programming styles to cross the multi-petascale barrier in sustained performance. In addition, IBM's system architecture and design approach will enable a rapidly increasing number of programmers and developers to achieve high productivity for small scale and petascale systems.

Developing computing systems that are more usable by the national security community, science and industry is a key part of DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) mission -- an area of high performance computing which has historically been under-addressed. IBM will tackle this productivity challenge through an end-to-end holistic approach to advanced system architecture and design as well as software development in the following areas: operating systems, programming models, compilers, libraries, file systems, application development tools, performance tools, systems and data management, and serviceability.

Initiated in 2002, the DARPA HPCS program responds to a strategy developed in conjunction with the U.S. national security community. The new IBM system design will help fulfill the goals of DARPA's HPCS program, which include enhancing human productivity as well as improving computer performance, scalability and availability. Today's award represents Phase III of the DARPA program. IBM plans to continue its collaboration with numerous universities and national laboratories throughout the development process of these advanced technologies.

"IBM's next generation POWER7 based petascale computing system will open many new realms in science and engineering -- from predicting the structure and function of complex biological systems, to realizing the potential of nanotechnology, to predicting the changes in the earth's climate and ecosystems," says Thom Dunning, director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). "This deep integration of IBM's most advanced technologies will place unsurpassed computational power into the hands of researchers and educators through an elegant architecture and comprehensive software environment that emphasizes productivity, reliability and high sustained performance at all computational scales."

"NCSA looks forward to working with IBM to bring the full potential of its planned POWER7 based system to bear on the nation's most challenging science and engineering problems," says Robert Pennington, chief technology officer at NCSA. "Engaging with industrial partners to explore and develop applications of petascale levels will strengthen the US economy and enhance our competitiveness in a world driven by science and technology innovation."

"These DARPA initiatives will propel IBM to far exceed the traditional 2X performance improvement over 18 months," said Ravi Arimilli, IBM Fellow and Principal Investigator of POWER7. "We are embarking on a bold journey to deliver a 100X improvement in sustained performance over 48 months with a simpler and easy to use platform. Harnessing the development capabilities of IBM towards this disruptive design will drive the frontiers of science and business."

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