Have you heard that IBM has wrested the crown for fastest computer, again, from Japan's NEC Earth Simulator? At first glance this is a case of just bragging rights to the fastest car on the street. So what, right?
So what that the IBM Blue Gene/L system clocked 70.72 trillion calculations per second or said more to my understanding, 1012 operations, or teraflops. This is faster than the previous NEC Earth Simulator record of 35.86 teraflops and even faster than the more recent NEC SX-8 introduction of 58.5 teraflops, and faster than a recent introduction by NASA Ames Research Center with an entry that zooms along at 51.87 teraflops.
NEC's Earth Simulator was a very impressive machine because it held the top position for more than two years while the competition struggled to catch up. Then, IBM came out with the Blue Gene/L in early October (see EE Times article) that surpassed the NEC mark with a 36.01 teraflop performance, which was quickly surpassed by the NEC SX-8's new record of 58.5 and then a couple weeks later by IBM's 70.72 teraflops. I don't think we've heard the end of this crowing (especially since IBM says Blue Gene will be four times faster by this time next year and its eventual top end of 360 teraflops!).
But, the speed is not what makes these records impressive. Buried within the information about the IBM superstar is the statement about its lower energy consumption and diminutive size. Blue Gene/L will consume a miserly $1 million a year in electricity. That's all, you say. Yes, that's all. However, if the NEC Earth Simulator were that powerful, it would consume $60 million each year for electricity. Now, I don't know if that's a fair comparison judging 10 year old technology with the newest processes, but it does give you an idea what technological advances we have made. And that's not all; the IBM system (Check out some of the cool uses for the Blue Gene) will take up just 2,500 square feet, compared with 34,000 square feet for Earth Simulator.
The differences are indeed impressive and they point to power management techniques employed even at the fastest, most expensive end of the computing spectrum, where saving money isn't the primary design motive. Finally, that makes me think that this new Power Management DesignLine site is a timely launch because it is focused on the more mundane computing needs of your business and your consumers. What do you think?
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