IBM Develops World’s Fastest Supercomputer

There are desktop computers, and then there are supercomputers. And there are supercomputers, and then there is IBM’s Blue Gene/P – which should be able to run three computational laps by the time its closest opponent finishes one. IBM revealed the machine at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden on Tuesday.

The Blue Gene/P is the latest in IBM’s Blue Gene line-up of supercomputers. According to IBM, it’s able to perform one petaflops, meaning 1,000,000,000,000,000 floating point calculations every second. That’s one thousand trillion, if it helps. The previous-generation Blue Gene, and current record-holder for speed, was the Blue Gene/L, which could pull off 280 teraflops.

To make it possible, the Blue Gene/P uses 294,912 processors – with 450 cores on each circuit board. IBM will later release an 884,736-processor version of the computer which should be able to hit three petaflops.

What good is all this computational horsepower if it isn’t running Halo 2? Most supercomputers are used for enormous tasks like weather forecasting or molecular modeling, which sap a huge amount of processor grunt to produce data.