|[11:00 AM] What Weighs As Much As 17 Elephants & Is Stuffed With 8,192 PowerPC Chips?
by Wes George
IBM announced it's ready to boot the world's fastest computer. The super computer called the ASCI White will run simulations of nuclear events for Lawrence Livermore Labs in California and is capable of processing more data "in a second than one person with a calculator could do in 10 million years."
That makes the ACSI White (Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative) supercomputer more than three times faster than the most powerful computer in existence today.
"This level of computing power has never been achieved anywhere," said David M. Cooper, associate director for computations and CIO at Lawrence Livermore. "It will open new horizons in scientific computing, as we approach our goal to simulate the aging and operation of a nuclear weapon. This is the second time in our partnership with IBM that they have exceeded contract performance specifications in the delivery of a major supercomputer system."
Nevertheless, the new supercomputer still won't be fast enough to simulate a full nuclear weapons test because its 12.3 teraflop capacity (trillions of operations per second) fall far short of the 100 teraflops experts believe would be necessary to model all aspects of a nuclear detonation.
According to reuters, "The system contains 8,192 copper microprocessors and is 1,000 times more powerful than its chess-playing predecessor "Deep Blue," which defeated World Champion Gary Kasparov in the historic 1997 chess showdown between man and machine."
The Department of Energy bought the supercomputer, which will take up the floor space equivalent to two basketball courts and weighs as much as 17 full-size elephants, for $110 million
While supercomputers have long been considered the dinosaurs of the PC age, IBM has not abandoned the field and now sees a big future for teraflop computing. Nicholas Donofrio, IBM senior vice president of technology and manufacturing told Reuters. "We're seeing more and more that deep computing will become a critical element in how real businesses run every day, and that it's not just in the territory of the propeller heads."
Once again Reuters, "In 1999, IBM became the leader in the traditional supercomputer market, in which some 250 computers that range in price from $2 million to $100 million are sold every year, for use in weather predictions, research and encryption. IBM now has 30 percent of that market."
IBM also plans to use pieces of its advanced supercomputing research in more mundane consumer applications. For instance, the 8,192 copper chips in the ASCI White are all Power PC RISC microprocessors from the same family of chip design that IBM supplies to Apple for use in iMacs and Powerbooks.
The ASCI project calls for a series of supercomputers -- 1, 3, 10, 30 and 100 teraflops in size -- to be built over a period of several years.
The Mac Observer Spin: While we will all laugh at how fast we think this is today in another 20 years, today we will go ahead and be floored. This is FAST! And powered by PowerPC processors too, so this makes us Mac users feel all cuddly and warm, even if the computer itself has nothing more in common with the Mac.
Congratulations to IBM.