IBM has unveiled a new supercomputing design, the Blue Gene/L machine is about the size of a dishwasher and is currently ranked as the 73rd fastest computer in the world. The Blue Gene/L uses air-cooling to cut energy costs. IBM has some very ambitious plands for the Blue Gene/L, they plan to boost it performance to the first place in the supercompter rank by achieving a theoretical 360 trillion operations a second.
The small size and the sparse energy consumption are unique features of the Blue Gene/L. Most other supercomputers have very large footprints and use water and air-cooling processes. The machine IBM unveiled Friday has more than 1000 PowerPC processors. IBM plans to interconnect 128 copies of that configuration to produce the final version of the machine. The company's very long-term goal is to achieve one full petaflop of calculations--one quadrillion calculations a second.
Running the Linux operating system, the Blue Gene/L is part of a project to solve complex genetic-research problems. The final full-blown configuration is being assembled for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.
IBM is not alone in seizing upon PowerPCs as components for a supercomputer. A team at Virginia Tech has assembled 2200 IBM PowerPC970 processors--configured around Apple Computer 5G processors--to build a supercomputer that ranks third on the supercomputer-performance list.