IBM on Tuesday said that the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory will use IBM's next-generation Blue Gene supercomputer to enable significant advances in areas such as designing ultra-efficient electric car batteries, understanding global climate change and exploring the evolution of our universe. The new supercomputer will deliver 10 PetaFLOPS performance and will be powered by IBM’s multi-core PowerPC chip.
The system that will be capable of performing 10 quadrillion (1015) floating point operations per second (FLOPS), named "Mira", will be twice as fast as today's fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe 1A, and will provide a strong science and technology backbone to the industry. Despite a popular trend to use both central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPU), the Mira will be based only on IBM’s PowerPC chips.
The IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer design is based on sixteen-core IBM PowerPC A2 chip with 4-way simultaneous multi-threading technology. Each processor has at least 1GB of DDR3 memory. Featuring 750 thousand processing cores, the new supercomputer will be cooled-down using a special water-cooling system.
The 10PFLOPS IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer will be operational in 2012 and made available to scientists from industry, academia and government research facilities around the world.
"Computation and supercomputing are critical to solving some of our greatest scientific challenges, like advancing clean energy and understanding the Earth's climate. Argonne's new IBM supercomputer will help address the critical demand for complex modeling and simulation capabilities, which are essential to improving our economic prosperity and global competitiveness,” said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life sciences at Argonne National Laboratory.
Argonne anticipates that the new supercomputer will be one of the fastest and most energy efficient supercomputers in the world after its construction and installation are complete thanks to a combination of innovative new chip designs and extremely efficient water cooling. Mira will offer an opportunity for scientists to become more familiar with the capabilities an exascale machine will offer and the programming changes it will require. For example, scientists will have to scale their current computer codes to more than 750 thousand individual computing cores, providing them preliminary experience on how scalability might be achieved on an exascale-class system with 100s of millions of cores.
Argonne's current supercomputer, Intrepid, is an IBM Blue Gene/P machine capable of producing over 500 trillion calculations a second. Mira will be 20 times faster, running programs at 10 quadrillion calculations a second.