IBM has won a bid to supply the U.S. Department of Energy’s National
Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with its latest
said its aim is to build a
system capable of a sustained speed of up to 1,000 trillion calculations per
second, or one petaflop
Codenamed “Roadrunner,” the hybrid system will be the first supercomputer
to use IBM’s Cell Broadband Engine (Cell B.E.) processor. While acknowledged
as a very
sophisticated processor, it’s especially impressive that the Cell, which
power Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, is making the leap to the
The other part of the hybrid design includes AMD
x86 processors. Over 16,000 AMD Opteron processors will be
included and about an equal number of Cell B.E. processors. The
supercomputer will be used to handle a broad spectrum of scientific and
The system will be completed in stages. IBM will begin shipping the new
supercomputer to the DOE facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
later this year, with completion of the installation and acceptance
anticipated in 2008.
IBM said the supercomputer will be built entirely from commercially
available hardware and based on the Linux operating system. IBM System x
3755 servers based on AMD Opteron technology will be deployed in
conjunction with IBM BladeCenter H systems with Cell B.E. technology.
“This installation with Los Alamos and IBM demonstrates the compelling
benefits from industry leaders innovating around an open platform,” said
Marty Seyer, senior vice president, Commercial Segment, AMD, in a statement.
The new system will actually take up a relatively small amount of space
for a supercomputer of such capability and considerable hardware assets. IBM
expects the system to “only” require 12,000 square feet of floor space,
about the size of three basketball courts. At the same time, the system will
employ the latest advanced cooling and power management technologies to
minimize energy consumption.
IBM said typical compute processes, file I/O, and communication activity
will be handled by AMD Opteron processors while more complex and repetitive
elements – ones that traditionally consume the majority of supercomputer
resources – will be directed to the array of Cell B.E. processors.