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Faster and "greener" supercomputer
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16:10, July 11, 2007

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The 22nd International Supercomputing Conference (ISC'07) recently came to a close in Dresden, Germany. The four-day conference set a record for having the largest attendance of information giants and exhibitors. The 29th and latest global TOP 500 supercomputer ranking was released at the conference. The "Blue Gene /L," produced by IBM, ranks at the top of the list again. The most important information released at the conference is that supercomputers are developing faster and in a "greener" direction.

Faster operational speed

The speed of the "Blue Gene/L" reached 280.6 trillion operations per second. The second and third place supercomputers also exceeded 100 trillion operations per second.

Although the "Blue Gene /L" was in first place; the more notable fact is that engineers from IBM and Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced that they will launch a new generation of supercomputers. The latest product of IBM is called "Blue Gene / P", with the highest operational speed expecting to reach 3,000 trillion operations per second. It can sustain operations at a speed of 1,000 trillion per second under normal conditions. The engineers said the operation capacity of the "Blue Gene / P" is equivalent to that of 75,000 of the most expensive Apple computers linked together.

The SUN company announced that the operational speed of its "Parade" supercomputer will reach 421 trillion operations per second under normal conditions, and it is expected to reach a speed of 1,700 trillion operations per second in the future. Therefore, some western media have commented that the Sun's "Parade" will officially be put into operation at the University of Texas in October of this year; IBM's "Blue Gene / P" will just be delivered by the end of this year. The "Parade" will temporarily occupy the top of the "TOP 500 supercomputer" list; and it will be replaced by "Blue Gene / P". Regardless, the scientific technological achievements obtained by the engineers will together create a new era of "1000 trillion operations" in the computer field.

The "electric tiger" will turn "green"

Nowadays, the era of ranking supercomputers only by the standard of operational speed has passed. The new standard will include the energy consumption index. In other words, the new standard will take into account the operational speed every time the computer consumes one kilowatt per hour.

As is publicly known, the Formula 1 Grand Prix attracted a number of fans. Just the same, the "TOP 500 supercomputer ranking" is an important competition for computers. The racing car is an "oil tiger" and the supercomputer is an "electric tiger". U.S. energy experts warned, at the conference, that due to a short supply of electric power; some supercomputers in the U.S. are in danger of not functioning.

According to a report, two new supercomputers in The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) were not put into operation because of the power shortage; and a power supply accident has caused many supercomputers to be at a standstill.

Therefore, the reduction of power consumption by supercomputers and their transformation into a "green product," have become important topic for experts. Experts have discussed some options. For example, the use of aluminum can reduce energy consumption; heat emitted from the supercomputer can be used to heat offices; and highly efficient air-conditioning systems can cut power consumption in half.

Not long ago, IBM announced that it would launch a "green giant" project, with an investment of one billion US dollars every year, to solve the issues of energy savings and environmental protection in its many data centers. The SUN has also introduced a similar program to enable a "greener" computer system.

By People's Daily Online



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