off the Press - News
Gene/L TV sized Super Computer, and it runs Linux.
November. 15th, 2003
Unveiling a unique
supercomputer design, IBM said its Blue Gene/L machine is the size of
a dishwasher and uses air-cooling methods to cut energy costs. The supercomputer
is currently ranked as the 73rd fastest computer in the world.
The company has ambitious plans for the Blue Gene/L: it plans to boost
the machine to first place in the supercomputer speed race by 2005,
achieving a theoretical 360 trillion operations a second. If reached,
that would eclipse the performance of the current supercomputer in first
place, NEC's Earth Simulator, in Japan. IBM's prediction assumes that
no competing supercomputer will surpass it in the interim.
"It's really this system-on-a-chip technology," said Bill
Pulleyblank, the director of exploratory server systems for IBM research.
"The real secret is by using these low-power processors and by
doing some careful engineering on it,
we're able to air-cool
the machine," said Pulleyblank. Because of these two elements, Blue
Gene requires about one-tenth the cooling of a typical supercomputer.
The small size and
the sparse energy consumption are unique features of the Blue Gene/L.
Most other supercomputers have very large footprints and use water and
air-cooling processes. The machine IBM unveiled Friday has more than 1000
PowerPC processors. IBM plans to interconnect 128 copies of that configuration
to produce the final version of the machine. The company's very long-term
goal is to achieve one full petaflop of calculations--one quadrillion
calculations a second.
Running the Linux (news - web sites) operating system, the Blue Gene/L
is part of a project to solve complex genetic-research problems. The final
full-blown configuration is being assembled for the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratories. The 700-MHz processors have a peak power consumption
on the order of 10 to 15 watts per node, said Don Dossa, a computational
physicist with Lawrence Livermore.