IBM to build World's Fastest Computer by 2012

Dennis Faas's picture

It seems as if IBM will retain its reputation as manufacturers of the most efficient supercomputers in the world. The multinational corporation revealed plans for an entirely new supercomputer concept that would shatter current speed-to-task records.

If all goes according to plan, 2012 would be the year in which the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California boots up an IBM BlueGene machine capable of reaching 20 petaflops of performance.

What can 20 petaflops of performance do?

The system itself (called the Sequoia) will be able to handle a quadrillion mathematical operations per second and run about 10 times faster than the current top supercomputer in the world! The current leading supercomputer resides at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico and, interestingly enough, was also manufactured by IBM. (Source:

The IBM BlueGene machine will be much different than established supercomputer designs. Most current bulky supercomputers are built by melding together thousands of standard computer servers, while BlueGene relies on custom chips and a hand-crafted interior.

Most of the financial support comes from the U.S. government, who in turn can flex hi-tech muscles in front of an international audience.

Low Power Consumption, High Performance

American taxpayers will be sad to note that the BlueGene designs will cost more than the familiar cluster server systems. Still, IBM believes that the benefits of the new design, such as low power consumption and high performance will bring down many future costs.

IBM has even gone so far as to argue that the age of clustered servers will start to fade as labs and businesses pay more attention to soaring energy costs. (Source:

While many are asking if scaled-down models are in the works for the future, the answer for the time being is 'no'. IBM seems content with leaving their designs as is, and if the 2012 debut is a success, the next logical step would be to open up these systems to foreign markets around the world.

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