RealTime IT News

BlueGene/L Reaches Another Teraflop High

Blue Gene/L just keeps getting faster.

Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today said the IBM-built BlueGene/L supercomputer performed at 280.6 trillion operations per second (teraflop) on the Linpack benchmark, the standard by which major supercomputers are measured.

This shatters the previous high mark of performing at 135.3 teraflops .

At the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Terascale Simulation Facility (TSF), NNSA is using BlueGene/L in conjunction with ASC Purple to test the U.S. nuclear missile stockpile for safety. This obviates the need for testing (i.e. blowing up) the bombs underground.

ASC Purple is no slug, either, simulating nuclear weapons performance in 3D at 100 teraflops. Made up of a series of IBM Power5 servers, the system is undergoing final tests at the TSF.

Used together as part of a $200 million contract the Department of Energy is paying to IBM, ASC Purple and BlueGene/L will run half of a petaflop , or half of a quadrillion operations per second of peak performance.

How fast is this? IBM said in a statement that if every person in the world had a handheld calculator it would still take decades to perform the number of calculations Blue Gene performs every single second.

"The unprecedented computing power of these two supercomputers is more critical than ever to meet the time-urgent issues related to maintaining our nation's aging nuclear stockpile without testing," said NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks at an event at Livermore Labs Thursday.

Brooks said BlueGene/L recently ran a materials science application at 101.5 teraflops sustained over seven hours, drawing power from the machine's 131,072 processors.

In this test, engineers simulated the cooling process in a molten actinide uranium system, which helps test the nuclear stockpile. The scientific code used in this particular test "will be one of the workhorse codes running on the machine," Brooks explained.

BlueGene/L will move into classified production in February to address critical problems of materials aging.

The successful coupling of BlueGene/L and ASC Purple solidifies IBM's position as the top maker of supercomputers for scientific research.

But the Armonk, N.Y., company has been working on ways of harnessing the awesome power of the machines for commercial applications. For example, IBM today announced four new commercial applications for its Blue Gene supercomputer.

SmartOps, a provider of supply chain optimization software for the manufacturing and distribution industries, is using IBM's Blue Gene to reduce the processing of customers' order fulfillment and inventory asset management from hours to seconds.

RenderRocket, a 3D-rendering services company, uses the supercomputer to help its customers have access to rendering power, 24 hours a day over the Internet.

QuantumBio, a maker of software tools for drug, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, uses IBM's DCCOD center in Rochester, Minn., to provide on-demand use of its 5.7 teraflop system to fulfill its computing power needs.

Finally, Exa, which provides computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation, is tapping into IBM's DCCOD Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to offer capacity for its customers.