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

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

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.

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