IBM Announces Supercomputer

FRAMINGHAM (07/07/2000) - Users wondering about the scalability of their RS/6000 SP server architectures might want to take a look at this week's ASCI White supercomputer announcement from IBM Corp.

Featuring 512 server nodes, 6 terabytes (TB) of memory and more than 120TB of storage, the system is the most powerful supercomputer in the world and draws many of its technologies from today's commercially available RS/6000 systems, according to IBM.

ASCI White will be used by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, to test nuclear weapons.

It's more than three times faster than the 3.8 teraFLOPS systems delivered by IBM to Livermore Labs back in 1998 and more than 100 times faster than the chess-playing Deep Blue supercomputer that beat Gary Kasparov in 1997, according to IBM. Put another way, it would take a human being with a calculator more than 10 million years to perform the number of operations ASCI White can do in one second, said IBM.

The system comprises 512 separate RS/6000 16-processor Unix servers linked to one another via a superfast switch capable of pumping data between the servers at 450G byte/sec. - compared with about 100G byte/sec. on the existing system, said Jim Jardine, IBM's ASCI program manager.

New load-balancing and parallelization software also significantly boost ASCI White's performance over the previous generation, Jardine said.

Users will be able to buy the same technology to run applications for such tasks as oil exploration, weather forecasting and online transaction processing. The largest commercial user of such a system is Charles Schwab & Co. in New York, which is using IBM's previous-generation supercomputer to power its financialapplications, Jardine said.

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