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IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer 2x Faster
Performance Doubles In Less Than a Year

IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer, the fastest computer in the world, has outdone itself by setting a new world speed record. Blue Gene now runs twice as fast, reaching 135.5 teraflops, about a trillion calculations a second.

The computer was commissioned by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and will be installed later this year at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Last year the system currently in place reached 70.72 teraflops, enough to beat Japan's NEC Earth Simulator and becoming the fastest computer in 2004.

At the heart of the new Blue Gene are special dual-processing engines known as cores, which have been fitted for 64 full racks, with each rack holding 1,024 processors. Once the machine is completed and installed, scientists will use it to test the safety and security of the US's nuclear weapons stockpile. Currently such tests are conducted underground using live ordinance.

While supercomputers have generally been used for such purposes, performing calculations numbering in the millions per second, they are slowly being introduced to do more familiar tasks. IBM, for example recently set up a new unit that will employ supercomputers in solving business problems. Hollywood however has been one of the first to use supercomputers, having generated many locales and characters for Lord of the Rings.

The year to year advances with supercomputing speed reflects how quickly computer scientists are coming up with ways to increase processing power without simply adding hundreds of processors. The first supercomputer, the Cray-1, which was set up at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976, is today 500,000 faster.

About Jeremy Geelan
Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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