IBM BladeCenter and POWER Microprocessor Fuel Europe's Most Powerful Supercomputer

Spanish Ministry of Education & Science's Record-Breaking Supercomputer to Further Research in Protein Folding, Drug Development and Climate Change

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MADRID, SPAIN & ARMONK, NY - 05 Nov 2004: IBM and the Spanish Minister of Education & Science, María Jesús San Segundo, unveiled today the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, breaking previously held records according to the LINPACK benchmark[1].

Named "MareNostrum," the system was built with highly scalable and flexible IBM eServer(TM) BladeCenter JS20 blade servers and is based on the Linux operating system and IBM's POWER(TM) microprocessors -- marking the first time that blade server technology has been used to attain top-five status among the world's most powerful supercomputers. Also, unlike most other supercomputers, MareNostrum does not require additional cooling systems.

The supercomputer was built as a result of an agreement between IBM and the Spanish Government and will be available for a wide range of high-level scientific research and for applications in several industrial sectors.

Currently, IBM has installed 3,564 POWER processors out of the 4,564 that the computer system is expected to have upon total completion. However, under this partial configuration, MareNostrum has already reached a sustained performance of 20.53 Teraflops and a peak performance of 31.363 Teraflops in the LINPACK benchmark -- topping performance marks set by all other supercomputers in Europe. Once the project is fully completed, the supercomputer will employ a cluster of 2,282 eServer BladeCenter JS20 servers and is expected to reach as much as 40 Teraflops of peak performance.

"The expected ranking of MareNostrum among the top five supercomputers in the world is a true testament to the high-performance power, scalability and agility of IBM's 64-bit Power Architecture running Linux on the JS20 systems," said Brian Connors, vice president for Linux on POWER at IBM. "Scientists across varying disciplines can now tap incredible computing power to drive research breakthroughs that will lead the scientific community into a new age of research and innovation."

The announcement marks the first time that blade server technology has been used to attain top-ten ranking among the world's most powerful supercomputers -- with price-performance advantages previously unattainable among the world's supercomputer elite. The supercomputer occupies a surface of 160 sq meters -- less than half a basketball court. It weighs 40,000 kg and it has reduced energy requirements. MareNostrum has been assembled temporarily in Madrid in a record time of less than two months. It will be permanently housed at the Politecnic University of Barcelona, Spain.

The MareNostrum system will be used by several scientific disciplines within the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to help solve some of today's most critical scientific questions including the decoding the human genome as well as work in protein structure, weather forecasting and the design of new drugs. It is estimated that the supercomputer will be available for the national and international scientific community in the spring of 2005.

A supercomputer for the scientific community
The supercomputer is a tool for the Spanish scientific community, making possible the development of projects that, until now, could only be conducted at international centers. As a result, scientists will be able to devise and conduct much more ambitious projects, giving a dynamic boost to the Spanish scientific program.

The areas of application of the supercomputer are diverse, however it will have significant relevance for life sciences and healthcare sectors. The following are some of the applications the supercomputer could be dedicated could be dedicated to:

Supercomputers are used for all those operations that require very complex calculations with a high number of variables and data such as astronomy or sciences applied to agriculture, making it easier, for example, in the studies on the effects of the genetic alterations in plants.