Friday, January 19, 2007
IBM's Supercomputer Deal
I recently saw an interesting article in Nature magazine about the US government's investment in supercomputers. Apparently, in November, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency " said it would grant almost $500 million to Cray and IBM to develop machines that will be about ten times faster tham most powerful existing supercomputers.
This deal involves many companies, but I didn't see Apple's name among them. It looks like research teams at HP and Sun Microsystems are also going to get a cut of the deal.
The fastest computer as of right now is IBM's Blue Gene/L, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Library in CA. It's got an astonishing 130,000 processors and fits in a very large room, almost the size of a high school gymnasium. It's capable of performing up to 280 trillion flops (floating point operations per second), as compared with the first ever supercomputer, which was able to crunch at about 80 million flops.
I guess the fact that IBM's laptops are not exactly the best in the industry doesn't matter when we're talking about the supercomputer industry.
A major challenge in supercomputing has always been the difficulty of programing the computers. I don't think Apple's interested in supercomputing just yet, but if they were, we'd probably have pretty efficient programing, seeing as they develop both the hardware and software.
By the way, this was in the December 2006 issue of Nature, Number 7122