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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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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

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