IBM is dreaming big again, the firm started working on a modified Blue Gene supercomputer that could run the entire Internet:
IBM launched an Epic project with an almost unfathomable goal -- to develop a single supercomputer capable of running the entire internet as a web application. The project, codenamed Kittyhawk (detailed in a white paper by IBM) created quite the stir in internet technology community.
While the software details descend quickly into the realm of the cerebral, one number that jumps off the page is the estimate for the number of cores and memory for the finished proposed system -- 67.1 million cores with 32PB of memory.
The system is based on IBM's Blue Gene/P architecture, which takes millions of cores and arranges them in a hierarchal architecture. At the lowest level four 850 MHz Power PC cores run on a single chip, with built in memory controllers and interconnects. The next level up is the card, which contains 32 of these quad core chips known as "nodes." Up a level, 16 cards compose a midplane. A server rack has two midplanes, yielding a total of 1024 nodes, or 4096 processors. Each server rack has 2TB of memory to play with. A maximum of 16,384 racks can be networked to yield the finally staggering metrics. As each rack has an I/O bandwidth of 640Gb/s, a "full" 67.1m core system would sport 10.4Pb/s of bandwidth.
The design is certainly not unproven technology -- IBM's Blue Gene architectures own 4 of the top 10 spots of the list of fastest supercomputers on the planet, including the top spot, which is occupied by IBM's Blue Gene/L. IBM's Blue Gene/L architecture is the successor to its P architecture. The Kittyhawk project, initially designed with the Blue Gene/P architecture, will likely make the eventual switch to the more powerful and efficient "L" architecture.