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IBM researcher Shawn Hall inspects a new Blue Gene/P supercomputer (Source: IBM)
IBM's Blue Gene/P triples the performance of its previous supercomputer

IBM has announced Blue Gene/P, the second generation of the world's most powerful supercomputer. Blue Gene/P nearly triples the performance of its predecessor, Blue Gene/L – which also held the title of being the world's fastest computer.

The Blue Gene/P scales to operate continuously at speeds exceeding one petaFLOP – or one-quadrillion operations per second – and can be configured to reach speeds in excess of three petaflops.

The performance jump from Blue Gene/L and Blue Gene/P is due to several factors. In hardware, the Blue Gene/P supercomputer doubles the number of processors per chip, with each processor operating at a higher clock speed. More memory is added along with an SMP mode to support multi-threaded applications. This new SMP mode moves the Blue Gene/P system to a programming environment similar to that found in commercial clusters. The system’s software is also upgraded for Blue Gene/P with refinements to system management, programming environment and applications support.

"Blue Gene/P marks the evolution of the most powerful supercomputing platform the world has ever known," said Dave Turek, vice president of deep computing, IBM. "A new group of commercial users will be able to take advantage of its new, simplified programming environment and unrivaled energy efficiency. We see commercial interest in the Blue Gene supercomputer developing now in energy and finance, for example. This is on course with an adoption cycle – from government labs to leading enterprises – that we've seen before in the high-performance computing market."

Four IBM PowerPC 450 processors running at 850 MHz are integrated on a single Blue Gene/P chip, with each chip capable of 13.6 billion operations per second. A two-foot-by-two-foot board containing 32 of these chips churns out 435 billion operations every second, making it more powerful than a typical, 40-node cluster based on two-core commodity processors. Thirty-two of the compact boards comprise the 6-foot-high racks. Each rack runs at 13.9 trillion operations per second, 1,300 times faster than today's fastest home PC.

The one-petaFLOP Blue Gene/P supercomputer configuration is a 294,912-processor, 72-rack system harnessed to a high-speed, optical network. The Blue Gene/P system can be scaled to an 884,736-processor, 216-rack cluster to achieve three-petaflop performance – though a standard Blue Gene/P supercomputer configuration will house 4,096 processors per rack.

Not only is the Blue Gene/P designed to be blazingly fast, it is also energy efficient. IBM says that the Blue Gene/P supercomputer is at least seven times more energy efficient than any other supercomputer today.

The power of the Blue Gene/P could be applied to the medical field, such as modeling an entire human organ to determine drug interactions, for example. Drug researchers could run simulated clinical trials on 27 million patients in one afternoon using just a sliver of the machine's full power.

Some of the world's leading research laboratories and universities have already placed orders for Blue Gene/P supercomputers. The U.S. Dept. of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., will deploy the first Blue Gene/P supercomputer in the U.S. beginning later this year.

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Great computer is it capable of good AI
By MarcusJ on 6/27/2007 1:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
After reading this post I'm wondering if this new supercomputer can do basic or middle of the road AI. If so It probably has areadly made a Doom game. Not just have it run on it's desktop. Besides the game reference this is a major leap in computing. The trillion commands the computer can process is amazing.

Now, some people might think that this computer is just an upgrade but its more! I'm waiting when we finally get a computer with good AI. The power to think on it own and follow complex commands.

This will help the human race greatly and pull us closer to computer acting on controlling themselves. Maybe that idea is far away but I believe we are only 10 years away from making "super thinking computers" not just "super computing servers" in which we have now.

RE: Great computer is it capable of good AI
By Hare on 6/27/2007 1:59:28 PM , Rating: 5
I don't think the problem with AI is the processing power. Really advanced AI is extremely hard to code (software).

By Master Kenobi on 6/27/2007 2:04:16 PM , Rating: 3
Yeap. We haven't figured out how to properly code a real living AI, computing power shouldnt be an issue by the time we eventually do figure it out.

By MarcusJ on 6/27/2007 4:14:49 PM , Rating: 2
I agree but disagree. Your right with software but whats also needed is a great amount of processing power to keep up with the language being written. Even if your able to code AI you need what ever sort computer your working with to respond and excute the command. That comes with having more processing power and the ability of the AI to finish a task given when task without taking a great amount of time.

RE: Great computer is it capable of good AI
By masher2 on 6/27/2007 11:23:47 PM , Rating: 5
Until we have a better idea of how "I" (intelligence) works, we're never going to be able to code a real AI. The mind and how it works is still a mystery to researchers.

By Adonlude on 6/27/2007 4:07:07 PM , Rating: 3
You should probably read about Technological Singularity here:

By CollegeTechGuy on 6/27/2007 4:20:17 PM , Rating: 1
The problem with AI like stated, is not processing, but rather software. We've had many discussions at my College about AI, the ideas behind...and believe it or not, but what would actually be considered AI. Many computer geeks have very different definitions of what an AI is. My personal opinion on what computers can't do that we can, is learn and apply to different applications. Something like lets say a game AI is programmed to actually learn from how a player plays. Then adept its soldiers to act accordingly to how that person plays. Yes, the computer can "record" all the data on how a player reacts to certain situations, but it can only adapt to those situations based on the programmers input.

Basically the computer can't think for itself, it only does what it is told. I belive we can program the learning part of computers, because thats just storing data, but actually getting the computer to react to different situations and "think" for itself is a whole different ball game.

Another arguement that i've had with fellow students and Professors about AI is initial programming. True AI wouldn't have any some think, because they say we don't know anything when we are born. I disagree though, I think that we are born knowing how to do certain things. This is somehow "programmed" in our DNA.

Then you start thinking about the DNA programming and you begin to wonder, or at least I do, about Human Beings. How much different are we from actual computers, besides the fact we have a good AI program. I mean we store data, process it in our brain, and react upon new stuff based off of stored data. And technology is just beginning to use Organic materials for data and imaging(OLEDs). Although I don't believe in religion personally, perhaps there was a God like figure who did create us just like we are trying to create AI and incorporate organic material into computers. Who knows, maybe we created ourselves created Adam and Eve and then sent them back in time.

Alright, i'll stop my ramblings of a college student with too much to think about :P

By Lazlo Panaflex on 6/28/2007 1:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
This will help the human race greatly and pull us closer to computer acting on controlling themselves.

Nah, Skynet & the Terminators will take care of that! Ahhhhnold! ;-P

By Drexial on 6/28/2007 3:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
wait till it discovers fire, then well talk about it programming Doom games. considering its a computer, would it be fighting off zombie servers and PC possessed by some unseen force (aka people) that are trying to shut it down as an intelligent entity?

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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