World record for Blue Gene supercomputer

748 trillion calculations per second, says IBM

IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer is officially the world's fastest computer for the fourth year running.

Located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the IBM Blue Gene/L is now nearly three times faster than the rest of the supercomputing pack.

This summer, it managed to deliver 478 trillion calculations per second (or 478 teraflops). Blue Gene/L is well on the way towards the petaflop barrier (1,000 trillion calculations per second), IBM said.

Petaflop computers would bring 'exponential breakthroughs' in science and engineering, IBM said. Such systems could be used to provide predictive and highly detailed simulations of weather patterns and earthquakes. Accurate data will ultimate help with building design in affected areas.

Roadrunner

IBM's petaflop portfolio will be headed up by a computer dubbed 'Roadrunner'. The hybrid design blends thousands of PC-type processors from AMD, and the Cell Broadband Engine, the graphics processor originally designed for the Sony Playstation 3.

Roadrunner will be delivered to the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory next summer and will be capable of speeds exceeding a petaflop. By combining the two styles of microprocessors, IBM said, Roadrunner will slash typical power consumption to offer a highly energy-efficient operating environment.

The Blue Gene/L has been topping the official Top500 list of supercomputers for the past four years. Just behind it in the rankings is Europe's fastest computer, IBM's Blue Gene/P, located at the research consortium Jülich in Germany. Jülich's Blue Gene/P clocks in at 167 teraflops.

In total, IBM had 232 supercomputers on the Top500 list, with four Blue Gene systems making the top 10. Of the 500 top supercomputers, 354 were based on Intel processors, an all time high. 317 systems were based on Intel Core microarchitecture, Intel said in a statement.