IBM supercomputer breaks own speed record
An IBM supercomputer already rated as the fastest in the world has overtaken its own speed record according to the US Energy Department. The record was achieved despite the fact that the computer in question is still only half built.
An IBM Blue Gene/L currently under construction at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California performed 135.3 teraflops (trillion floating-point operations per second) running benchmark software. The result overtakes the 70.72 teraflops achieved by a smaller version of the computer last September. This in itself was a record, overtaking a figure achieved by a computer used by the Japanese government.
The Blue Gene Supercomputer is under construction for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to simulate nuclear processes including the performance and safety of nuclear weapons.
‘Blue Gene/ L will address vital challenges critical to ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear weapon stockpile,’ said NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks. ‘This supercomputer provides an essential resource to the weapons complex, allowing us to address time-urgent and mission-critical scientific issues that require such specialized computational capabilities.’
The computer has already achieved some impressive results. The LLNL says it has performed 16-million-atom molecular dynamics simulations. BlueGene/L has also allowed scientists studying metal failure at Los Alamos National Laboratory to perform molecular dynamics simulations of more than 2.1 billion atoms.
This apparently is only the beginning. The Blue Gene/L at Livermore will eventually consist of a staggering 131,072 processors. Construction of the Blue Gene is expected this summer and will become operational in July.
The design of the computer is based on a custom BlueGene/L ‘compute card’. The board consists of two nodes, each containing two central processing units (CPUs) and includes four megabytes of dedicated memory. Also fitted on the circuit board are a memory controller module and nine separate memory chips.