Supercomputing: Livermore Puttin’ On Its New Purple and Blue Gene
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is now home to two of the most powerful computers on the planet: the ASC Purple supercomputer, and the Blue Gene/L. After three years in development and time running scaled-down versions of these systems, the supercomputers have come fully online over the past few months and were recently dedicated in a ceremony at the nuclear research facility. The computers are under the management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Advance Simulation and Computing (ASC) program office, which oversees computing in U.S. national laboratories.
ComputerWorld reports that Blue Gene/L, which has more than 130,000 processors and a theoretical peak capacity of 367 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), is being used to study the movement and behavior of molecules. Each processor in Blue Gene has more computing power than a 1988 Cray supercomputer, and the system’s actual performance is expected to be 270-280 TFLOPS, beating out an earlier 136.8 TFLOP earlier version of Blue Gene/L that was ranked as the world’s #1 supercomputer in June 2004. The machines are now being marketed more generally by IBM, at a starting price of $1.5 million for a 5.7 TFLOP eServer Blue Gene. The 12,000-processor ASC Purple, meanwhile, is intended for nuclear weapon simulations. It has a theoretical peak capacity of 93 TFLOPS, which is about 50% greater than NASA/SGI’s Columbia (the No. 3-ranked supercomputer in the last Top 500 survey). ComputerWorld has more.