NetworkWorld reports IBM has been contracted to build the Blue Waters supercomputer for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and its National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA). The supercomputer will cost $208 million and will feature 200,000 processor cores. Blue Waters is expected to come online in 2011 and will offer over a petaflop of computing power.
Blue Waters is expected to deliver sustained performance of more than one petaflop on many real-world scientific and engineering applications. A petaflop equals about 1 quadrillion calculations per second. They will be coupled to more than a petabyte of memory and more than 10 petabytes of disk storage. All of that memory and storage will be globally addressable, meaning that processors will be able to share data from a single pool exceptionally quickly, researchers said. Blue Waters, is supported by a $208 million grant from the National Science Foundation and will come online in 2011.
Blue Waters will be based on what researchers called PERCS (Productive, Easy-to-use, Reliable Computing System). PERCs required research and development in new chip technology, interconnect technology, operating systems, compiler, and programming environments. It will run a large and varied set of commercial and technical high-performance computing applications, researchers said.
According to the NSF the system may be used to study complex processes like the interaction of the Sun's coronal mass ejections with the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere; the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe; understanding the chains of reactions that occur with living cells; and the design of novel materials.
The NSF said that by 2010-2011, academic researchers will be able to access a mix of high-performance systems that: deliver sustained performance in the 10 teraflops to 2 petaflops range on a variety of science and engineering codes; are integrated into a national cyberinfrastructure environment; and are supported at national, regional and/or campus levels.