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Blue Gene breaks supercomputing record, again

Wins stint monitoring decaying nukes

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IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer has broken its own record, doubling the number of calculations it can do in a second to a massive 280.6 trillion.

IBM announced the results of its latest test on the industry standard LINPACK benchmark at the same time as it officially dedicated the machine, along with its partner, Purple, to keeping a watchful eye on the health and stability of the US's nuclear stockpile.

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) administrator Linton Brooks commented: "Purple represents the culmination of a successful decade-long effort to create a powerful new class of supercomputers. BlueGene/L points the way to the future and the computing power we will need to improve our ability to predict the behaviour of the stockpile as it continues to age."

Purple on its own is capable of 100 Teraflops, or 100 trillion floating point calculations per second. When combined, the two machines are capable of nearly 400 Teraflops, that is nearly half a petaflop, or half of a quadrillion operations per second. (Yes, we just wanted to use the word quadrillion).

IBM tries to put this number in context by pointing out that "if every person in the world had a hand-held calculator it would still take decades to perform the number of calculations Blue Gene performs every single second".

The pair will spend part of their time running the nuclear weapons analysis that should supplant underground nuclear testing. The rest of the time, the enormous processing power will be brought to bear on modelling the human brain, and other computationally intensive scientific research. ®

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