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Tuesday, November 15, 2011
IBM To Build Supercomputer That Will Deliver Up to 100 Petaflops

IBM today announced its next generation supercomputing project, Blue Gene/Q, will provide an ultra-scale technical computing platform to solve the most challenging problems facing engineers and scientists at faster, more energy efficient, and more reliable rates than ever before.

IBM expected the Blue Gene/Q to be able to predict the path of hurricanes, analyze the ocean floor to discover oil, simulate nuclear weapons performance and decode gene sequences.

The third generation in the Blue Gene family of supercomputers, Blue Gene/Q operates at an order of magnitude faster than previous systems, deploying 16 multi-processing core technology and a scalable peak performance up to 100 petaflops - a massive leap forward in parallel computing power.

The new IBM PowerPC A2 processing architecture plays a key role in delivering performance. Each processor includes 16 compute cores (up from four used with Blue Gene/P, the previous system) plus a core allocated to operating system administrative functions and a redundant spare core.

Blue Gene/Q incorporates architectural advances that contribute to the system's performance and help simplify programming. For example, hardware-based speculative execution capabilities facilitate efficient multi-threading for long code sections, even those with potential data dependencies. If conflicts are detected, the hardware can backtrack and redo the work without affecting application performance.

In addition, hardware-based transactional memory helps programmers avoid the potentially complex integration of locks and helps eliminate bottlenecks caused by deadlocking - when threads become stuck during the locking process. Hardware-based transactional memory helps to deliver efficient and effective multi-threading while reducing the need for complicated programming.

Designed with a small footprint and low power requirements, Blue Gene/Q was ranked as the number-one most energy-efficient supercomputer in the world by the Green500 (June 2011).

When it is fully deployed in 2012 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the system, named "Sequoia", is expected to achieve 20 petaflops at peak performance, marking it as one of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Moreover, Blue Gene/Q is expected to become the world's most power-efficient computer, churning out 2 gigaflops per watt.

LLNL, a multidisciplinary national security laboratory for DOE?s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), applies some of the world's most powerful supercomputers to maintaining the U.S. aging nuclear deterrent without testing, as well as such challenges as grid and network management, energy research and climate change. IBM will deploy 96 racks beginning as early as December of this year.

Announced earlier in 2011, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) will also implement Blue Gene/Q to stoke economic growth and improve U.S. competitiveness for such challenges as designing electric car batteries, understanding climate change and exploring the evolution of the universe. The 10-petaflop system, named "Mira", will provide a strong science and technology engine.

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