IBM Super-Cell Machine

Published on Friday, 08 September 2006 06:13
Written by Douglas Eadline
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They named it Roadrunner, wonder if they include any Acme earthquake pills or rocket sleds. Just a thought.

IBM has announced the "worlds fastest supercomputer" that is to be built from Cell processors. Normally, I don't post or comment on fastest supercomputer headlines, but this announcement represents an interesting take on the HPC market. First, I think they forgot to tell us what program(s) this machine will run the fastest. My guess is it will be HPL and a trip to Top500 glory, but I could be wrong and that is not what really matters here.

From the article, The new machine will be able to achieve "petaflop speeds," said IBM. One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Running at peak speed, it will be able to crunch through 1.6 thousand trillion calculations per second. By comparison, BlueGene/L is capable of mere "teraflop" (trillion calculations per second) speeds.

There is not doubt the machine will be fast. I am sure the interconnect will be fast as well. What really intrigues me is that the same processor powering the "worlds fastest computer" is the same one used in (presumably) the "worlds most popular game console". Of course the commodity push has put the same desktop/server processors in the fastest clusters, but it seems the envelope has expanded a bit. Ten years ago, if you would have predicted that competition in the video game market would be providing processors for the "worlds fastest supercomputer", you would have been been considered quite nuts. In a weird kind of way Los Alamos National Laboratory (and the DOE) have to thank, GTO, Resident Evil, and Madden Football for giving them the PFLOPS they need. Go figure. Beep Beep.

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