IBM To Build Supercomputer 'Lite'

As part of its effort to build a massive supercomputer capable of 1 quadrillion calculations per second, IBM will first create a less-powerful sibling for commercial applications.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 9, 2001

1 Min Read

IBM has revealed plans to build a massive new supercomputer that will both open the door to more advanced commercial computers and serve as a stepping stone to a much more powerful sibling. The machine is part of IBM's "Blue Gene" project, announced in December 1999, which aims to build a massive supercomputer capable of more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second, or 1 petaflop. Blue Gene is being built at IBM's Watson laboratories, and when completed in 2006, will be used for biological research.

IBM also plans to build an interim, smaller machine, called "Blue Gene/L," at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. It's expected to be finished in 2005, and will be used for a variety of tasks. It will only run at 200 teraflops, a fifth the speed of its big sister, but still about 15 times faster than today's quickest computer.

Bob Germain, manager of the computational biology center at IBM, says Blue Gene/L will serve as a sort of test model for the petaflop machine, allowing IBM to explore the technology's commercial use. "As the Blue Gene project has evolved, we saw an opportunity to make the hardware more applicable to a broad range of applications," he says. "We have the expectation that this new machine will be somewhat better suited for commercial applications than the original Blue Gene architecture."

IBM says it also will build a separate, entirely new system, codenamed "Blue Sky," which scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research will use to model the Earth's climate and predict changes that impact farming, heating oil prices, and global warming. Expected to be complete by September 2002, Blue Sky will run at speeds reaching seven teraflops and will cost about $24 million.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights