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REPORT: IBM Continues Global Supercomputing Lead; Delivers More Than a Petaflop of Computing Power


IBM Systems Claim Top Three Spots; POWER5-Based System Appears at Number Three

ARMONK, NY -- Nov 14, 2005 -- The world’s foremost supercomputing authority, the TOP500 Organization, today named an IBM supercomputing system as the most powerful supercomputer in the world. IBM’s Blue Gene/L tops the list with an unprecedented sustained performance of 280.6 Teraflops, or trillions of floating point calculations per second.

Joining Blue Gene/L in the TOP500 list’s top three supercomputers are IBM’s own Blue Gene Watson system at 91.29 Teraflops, and the recently unveiled ASC Purple supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with 63.39 Teraflops.

IBM supercomputing systems lead the list, delivering for the first time in the history of the TOP500 an aggregate performance of over one Petaflop.

The Blue Gene/L and ASC Purple systems were developed with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and are installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in California. The ranking of ASC Purple at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory marks the first time a POWER5-based system has claimed a top-three placement on the list.

“ASC Purple and Blue Gene/L mark the completion of a ten-year challenge to develop supercomputers for entry-level simulations that support a future free from nuclear testing,” said Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, Director of the NNSA Advanced Simulation and Computing program. “Reaching this point is not only a reflection of the importance of our industrial partnerships, but also of the sustained support of the Department of Energy, NNSA and Congress to the mission. With these new tools, the national laboratories are pushing the envelope in computational science, bringing improved confidence to guide decisions on our national nuclear security.”

“The complement of simulation capabilities BlueGene/L and Purple bring to the three national labs under the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program is of critical importance,” said Dona Crawford, associate director for Computation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “These systems put us on the threshold of a new era in high performance computing, where simulation is the integrating element of the scientific discovery triad. We’re excited to have simulation capabilities that will help us to better understand the complex physical phenomena necessary to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear deterrent.”

IBM is the leading provider of both installed supercomputing systems with 219 systems as well as total aggregate supercomputing power, with a record total of 1.214 Petaflops. IBM has five of the systems in the Top 10, including Mare Nostrum, Europe’s most powerful supercomputer which is powered by IBM’s Power Microprocessor and eServer BladeCenter JS20 -- the only top-ten supercomputer based on blade server technology.

According to numbers compiled by the TOP500 List of Supercomputers, IBM is the overwhelming leader in global supercomputing with 52.77 percent of the total processing power, nearly three-times the power of its closest rival. In addition, IBM is debuting three new Blue Gene systems on the Top500 List.

Princeton University, MIT and Zurich Research Center have installed IBM eServer Blue Gene systems and appear for the first time on the Top500 list.

A unique partnership between Princeton University scientists and information technology administrators has brought one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, IBM’s Blue Gene, to the University to spur advancements in research. In conjunction with IBM, the University’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) collaborated with Princeton researchers to purchase and install the Blue Gene system to aid current and future research solving complex problems in areas including astrophysical sciences, engineering, chemistry and plasma physics.

Since IBM announced the commercial availability of the IBM eServer Blue Gene Solution, a commercial version of the research project, in November 2004, a record number of 19 Blue Gene systems appear on the list. Based on IBM’s Power architecture, the IBM eServer Blue Gene Solution is optimized for bandwidth, scalability and the ability to handle large amounts of data while consuming a fraction of the power and floor space required by today’s fastest systems. IBM and its partners are exploring a growing list of high performance computing (HPC) applications including life sciences, financial modeling, hydrodynamics, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, astronomy and space research and climate modeling for eServer Blue Gene.

Along with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ASTRON, AIST, NIWS, NCAR, University of Edinburgh, San Diego Supercomputing Center, Argonne National Lab, The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the IBM Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Center, these research institutions make up a growing ecosystem of early collaborators dedicated to harnessing Blue Gene’s power to advance research.

“By giving our clients access to innovative, affordable and flexible supercomputing power like Blue Gene, POWER5-based p5 575 systems, JS20s and the Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Center, we are providing new resources to drive breakthroughs in business, science and industry,” said Dave Turek, vice president, Deep Computing, IBM. “Whether we are talking about improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, designing better automobiles or improving disease research, we are seeing the advent of a new supercomputing age.”

Other key indicators of IBM supercomputing leadership:

* #1 BlueGene/L -- doubling the performance achieved in the June 2005 Top500
* #2 Blue Gene Watson (BGW)
* #3 ASC Purple p5 575
* 219 total systems -- the most by any vendor, and more than Hewlett-Packard, Cray and SGI combined
* First-ever one Petaflop of aggregate performance, representing 52.77% of total supercomputing power on the Top500 list
* More systems of any vendor in the Top 10 with five
* More systems of any vendor in Top 20 with eight
* More systems in Top 100 with 49
* Europe’s most powerful two supercomputers are IBM systems -- Mare Nostrum in eighth place overall, and ASTRON Netherlands at ninth
* IBM provides the most commodity clusters on the list, with 158 out of 360
* 73 systems are based on IBM’s Power Architecture technology
* Power processors total 327,622 out of 731,069 on the list -- over 13% more than from any other single competitor
* Blue Gene taken by itself would be third highest number of entries, more than Cray, SGI, Dell, and all others except HP and IBM

The “TOP500 Supercomputer Sites” is compiled and published by supercomputing experts Jack Dongarra from the University of Tennessee, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim (Germany). The entire list can be viewed at

About IBM’s Blue Gene Supercomputer Project
Blue Gene is an IBM supercomputing project dedicated to building a new family of supercomputers optimized for bandwidth, scalability and the ability to handle large amounts of data while consuming a fraction of the power and floor space required by today’s fastest systems. The full Blue Gene/L machine is being built with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and is planned to have a peak speed of 360 Teraflops. IBM and its collaborators are currently exploring a growing list of applications including hydrodynamics, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, climate modeling and financial modeling.

IBM Research is the world’s largest information technology research organization, with about 3,000 scientists and engineers in eight labs in six countries. IBM has produced more research breakthroughs than any other company in the IT industry. For more information on IBM Research, visit

About IBM
IBM is the world’s largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about IBM, visit


* High resolution images of the Blue Gene/L, Blue Gene Watson, ASC Purple and Mare Nostrum and other IBM technology are available upon request.


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