In May 1997, IBM demonstrated Deep Blue, a 32-node IBM RS/6000 SP computer programmed to play chess on a world-class level. In a six-game match in New York, Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. Recently, IBM unveiled the details of its plans to build a computing system that can understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on the quiz show “Jeopardy.”
IBM’s World Community Grid, a virtual supercomputer that gains its power from individuals who donate their unused computer time, has more than 440,000 members around the world with more than 1.2 million devices connected. It runs humanitarian research such as seeking cures for childhood cancer, AIDS/HIV and influenza.
IBM’s new Power 575 supercomputer uses a first-of-its-kind system in which water-chilled copper plates are located above each microprocessor, continually removing heat from the electronics. IBM scientists estimate that water can be up to 4,000 times more effective in cooling computer systems than air.
On Feb. 3, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration selected Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the site for a new supercomputer, Sequoia, to be delivered in 2011 and deployed in 2012. It will be based on future IBM BlueGene technology and exceed 20 petaflops—or 20 million billion calculations per second. You would need a stack of laptop computers 30 miles high—2 million of todays fastest laptops—to equal Sequoia’s performance.
IBM is working with several utilities around the world to add a layer of digital intelligence to their grids. These smart grids use sensors, meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automate, monitor and control the two-way flow of energy across operations, from power plant to plug. A power company can optimize grid performance, prevent outages, restore outages faster and allow consumers to manage energy usage.
IBM has developed a 3D avatar to help doctors visualize patients’ medical records to improve healthcare. IBM played a major role in developing the heart lung machine, invented the first continuous blood separator which is used to treat leukemia patients, and helped develop the field of relaxometry which plays a role in medical magnetic resonance imagery (MRI).
Noted architect I.M. Pei designed the IBM office complex in Somers, N.Y., with its distinctive pyramid features, as well as the atrium in a company office building in Armonk, N.Y.