NASA is preparing to take off with a new IBM supercomputer.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., has entered into a four-year contract with National Aeronautics and Space Administration to build a supercomputer at NASAs Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
This supercomputer, which will augment the "Columbia" systems already installed at the NASA facility, will be built using IBMs System p p575+ servers that use the companys Power5+ processors. IBM and NASA announced the contract signing on June 6.
When the supercomputer is completed, it will contain 640 computational cores, which means it can process 5.6 teraflops of data at a trillion calculations per second when it is performing at maximum capacity.
By comparison, IBMs Blue Gene/L system, which the company installed at the Department of Energys Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, Calif., can process 280.6 teraflops of data.
According to NASA, the new supercomputer will assist its scientists and engineers who are working on projects, such as the spacecraft, that could be used for future Mars missions, improving weather and hurricane models and understanding the behavior of the sun.
At the end of the four-year contract, NASA will use the new IBM supercomputer to replace the Columbia system, which had been designed and built by SGI.
According to the current list of the worlds Top 500 supercomputers, which is maintained by the International Supercomputing Conference, NASAs Columbia system ranks eighth. IBM has four computers in the top 10, including the Blue Gene/L system, which ranks first.