IBM Blue Gene/L becomes the world's most powerful supercomputer

Surpasses NEC's Earth Simulator in Japan, rewrites rulebook for ultra-powerful, affordable computing

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Yorktown Heights, NY, USA - 30 Sep 2004: IBM has announced that its IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer has surpassed NEC's Earth Simulator in Japan to become the world's most powerful supercomputer. Using the industry-standard LINPACK benchmark, the IBM Blue Gene/L system attained a sustained performance of 36.01 teraflops, eclipsing the three year old top mark of 35.86 teraflops for the Japanese Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan. The milestone was attained during internal testing at IBM's production facility in Rochester, Minnesota.

This recent milestone shows the current state of an ongoing, multi-year project that has been (and continues to be) a series of opportunities and challenges. IBM Research has often found that the best impetus for innovation is a demanding client. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California has partnered with IBM's researchers and engineers, presenting formidable computing challenges that have driven the IBM team to reach for new levels in cost-effective, ultra-powerful supercomputing.

And this is only a glimpse of Blue Gene/L's full potential. The largest planned Blue Gene/L machine, scheduled for delivery to LLNL in early 2005, will occupy 64 full racks with a peak performance of 360 teraflops. LLNL researchers plan to use Blue Gene/L to simulate physical phenomena that require computational capability much greater than presently available, such as cosmology and the behavior of stellar binary pairs, laser-plasma interactions, and the behavior and aging of high explosives.

Blue Gene is an IBM supercomputing project with two overall goals: The first is to build a new family of supercomputers optimized for bandwidth, scalability and the ability to handle large amounts of data while consuming a fraction of the power and floor space required by today’s fastest systems. The second is to use this computing platform to attack a broad range of challenging scientific and data analysis problems. Among the first applications IBM is exploring to harness Blue Gene's massive computing power is to model the folding of human proteins – a technique expected to give medical researchers better understanding of diseases, as well as potential cures. IBM and its partners are also currently exploring a growing list of applications, including hydrodynamics, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, climate modeling and financial modeling.

IBM's team continues to expand and test the system in anticipation of the upcoming publication of the Top500 Supercomputer list.

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