The U.S. government has agreed to buy two supercomputers from IBM Corp., including one to be in use in 2012 that will ultimately scale to 20 petaflops, an estimated ten times the performance of today's most powerful system.
Terms of the deal were not immediately released.
In June, IBM became the first to break the petaflops performance mark with a separate government system. Cray quickly followed with a petaflops system that hit the Top 500 list in November.
The new IBM BlueGene-class systems will be installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to handle analysis of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The lab currently uses an IBM BlueGene/L system.
Under the deal IBM will deliver to the lab by April one of its BlueGene/P systems capable of up to 500 teraflops. By sometime in 2012, IBM will have installed a follow on system called Sequoia.
BlueGene/P uses a modified PowerPC 450 processor running at 850 MHz with four cores per chip and as many as 4,096 processors in a rack. The Sequoia system will use 45nm processors with as many as 16 cores per chip running at a significantly faster data rate.
Both BlueGene/P and Sequoia consist of clusters built up from 96 racks of systems. Sequoia will have 1.6 petabytes of memory feeding its 1.6 million cores, but many details of its design have not yet been disclosed.
"The Sequoia system will be 15 times faster than BlueGene/P with roughly the same footprint and a modest increase in power consumption," said Herb Schultz, manager in IBM's deep computing group.
The IBM bid was one of four for the contract put out by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) under the U.S. Department of Energy.
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