IBM building next super computer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

IBM building next super computer

Rochester, Minn. (KTTC) --

The title of "World's Fastest Computer" is planned to come home to Rochester. IBM announced Tuesday, the second project of its new Blue Gene Q system, Mira. It follows another project, Sequoia, which is even faster.

The Rochester IBM facility is in charge of creating the next best super computer, and they're doing it with their Blue Gene line. Mira and Sequoia have computation capabilities unlike anything ever seen.

What looks like a hard-wire refrigerator, actually contain the components of the fastest computer known to man.

"The excitement level is very, very high."

This is the Blue Gene P, IBM's previous super computer that came out in 2007. The new Blue Gene Q looks pretty much the same, but has the capacity to run nearly 40 times faster. And IBM will show the world what it can do with its two new projects Mira and Sequoia.

"Blue Gene P was a significant performer. The next generation, which is what the Mira machine will be based on, will again be significantly faster. And it's hard for me to predict where this could go," says IBM's integration project manager Kerry Kaliszewski.

Mira will a 10-petaflop capacity and Sequoia will have 20-petaflops, meaning it can perform 20 quadrillion calculations per second. That's 20 with 15 more zeros behind it.

"These machines will be used for general research. It could be used for anything from weather prediction to nuclear simulation of some kind, to drug interactions in the human body. There's many different applications for these things," exclaims Kevin Collins, IBM's director of Integration and tests.

Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois will take Mira and Lawrence Livermore Labs in California will take Sequoia. They're both governmentally-run labs that joined with IBM in 1999 to create these super computers thanks to a $100 million grant.

There's also national pride at stake.

"Currently, China owns the number one super computer in the world," explains Kaliszewski. "The United States would clearly like to take that title back, and we plan to do it with the next generation of Blue Gene machines."

And this is just the stepping stone for what's next to come.

IBM will start installing both Mira and Sequoia at the two labs throughout 2012. Blue Gene Q is viewed as the next step to an even faster computer, reaching the level of exascale computing, which is one thousand times faster than a petaflop.

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