IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer Looks to Break the Petaflop Mark in Europe

IBM, which recently announced that it would build a massive supercomputer capable of 20 petaflops of performance, may set new supercomputing records in Europe when it builds a Blue Gene/P System machine in Germany later in 2009. This water-cooled IBM Blue Gene supercomputer could be the first supercomputer in Europe to break the petaflop barrier. Right now, only IBM's Roadrunner system and Cray's Jaguar supercomputer offer petaflops of performance.

IBM is looking to build the first supercomputer in Europe later in 2009 that passes the petaflop barrier, which will make the machine the first high-performance computer on the continent to offer a performance of more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second.

On Feb. 10, IBM and the German research center Forschungszentrum Juelich announced that they would build a new Blue Gene/P System supercomputer capable of delivering petaflops of performance.

Right now, the only two supercomputers capable of delivering petaflops of performance are located in the United States. In 2008, IBM finished its Roadrunner system for the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico. This machine was the first to officially break the petaflop barrier and it currently offers a peak performance of 1.105 petaflops, according to the Top 500 Supercomputer list.

The other supercomputer offering petaflops of performance is the Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Earlier in February, IBM announced that it plans to build a supercomputer called "Sequoia" that is capable of delivering up to 20 petaflops of compute performance. This system, which is also being built for the DOE, is slated to go online in 2012.

While IBM's Roadrunner supercomputer is a hybrid system that uses a combination of IBM's own Cell processors and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chips, the Blue Gene family of high-performance computers uses processors based on IBM's Power Architecture.

Altogether, this IBM supercomputer will contain 294,912 processors within 72 server racks. The Blue Gene/P System will also use 144TB of memory and have 6PB of hard disk drive data storage.

The Blue Gene/P System that IBM is preparing in Germany will also use water to cool the supercomputer-a first for an IBM supercomputer. When air passes through the server racks, the heat is removed as it passes through the water-cooling system before the air reaches the next set of racks.

The German Gauss Centre for Supercomputing is also helping with the installation of this supercomputer, which is being funded by the German Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Research of Northrhine-Westfalia.