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Worlds fastest super computer

Researchers from the Haifa branch of the IBM Corporation have helped to develop one of the key components of the BlueGene/L - recently announced as the fastest super computer in the world.

The BlueGene - IBM`s new super computer

A team of Israeli researchers from the Haifa branch of IBM have created the job scheduler for the BlueGene/L, currently the fastest super computer in the world. This computer was built by the IBM Corporation for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for an estimated cost of 100 million dollars. The job scheduler is a key component of any modern super computer since it dictates the way the workload is distributed across the many computing units that make up the super computer.

In order to fully understand the importance of the job scheduler it might be helpful to grasp the complexity of the super computer structure. A super computer like the IBM BlueGene/L is composed of many nodes. Each node contains a small number of CPU (Central Processing Unit) more or less similar to those you can find on your average PC. The awesome power of the super computer lies in the share number of nodes (and hence CPU's) that it can utilize to perform every calculation. In the case of the BlueGene/L, upon its completion in 2005, 65,536 nodes will be built, each containing two PowerPC processors (one for communication and one for general calculations) bringing the total number of processors to a staggering 131,072. The job scheduler function is to effectively distribute the workload between the nodes so that the calculation will be completed as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

The BlueGene/L architecture from bottom to top

Upon completion the raw computing power of the BlueGene/L will be hard to grasp. An existing desktop computer system based on an Intel Pentium 2.8GHz processor can perform about 1.5 billion floating points operations per second (1.5 Gigaflops). A floating points operation is an arithmetic calculation done with floating-point numbers (a floating-point number is a digital representation for a number in a certain subset of the rational numbers). In contrast the BlueGene/L will be able to perform a staggering 360,000 Gigaflops (or 360 Teraflops). This will make it 10 times faster then the previous record holder, the Japanese Earth-Simulator super computer with "only" about 35 Teraflops.The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will receive not one but two new super computers from IBM. The first, called ASCI Purple with around 100 Teraflops of computing power, will be used in simulation and modeling of the U.S. aging nuclear weapons arsenal. The BlueGene/L super computer will be focused on research in many important scientific areas, such as predicting global climate change and spread of pollution as well as studying protein dynamics relevant to the manufacture of drugs that targets many diseases, including: congestive heart failure, stroke, cancer, ulcers, allergies, asthma, anxiety and Parkinson's disease.

Iddo Genuth

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