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IBM Burns Through Record Book With 9th Straight No.1 Showing Atop World Supercomputer List


Company’s Systems Combine Record Levels of Power With World Class Energy Efficiency to Tackle World’s Grand Challenges

NK, NY - 17 Nov 2008:

* IBM’s No.1 system uses half the energy of No.2

* IBM tops list in aggregate processing power

* Top 20 most energy-efficient systems all from IBM

For a record-setting ninth consecutive time, an IBM (NYSE: IBM) system took the No.1 spot in the ranking of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The IBM computer built for the “roadrunner project” at Los Alamos National Lab -- the first in the world to operate at speeds faster than one quadrillion calculations per second (petaflop) in June 2008 -- remains the world speed champion.

The latest bi-annual ranking of the World’s TOP500 Supercomputer Sites was released today during the International Supercomputing Conference in Austin, Texas. Results show the IBM Los Alamos system, which clocked in at 1.105 petaflops, to be roughly twice as energy-efficient as the No.2 computer, using about half the total electricity (2.5MW) to maintain the same levels of petascale computing power.

Indeed, IBM swept the energy-efficiency category -- the TOP20 most energy-efficient systems are from IBM.

IBM also had more systems in the TOP50 (21) and the TOP100 (33) than any other systems maker.

Over the 15-year history of the list, IBM has held the No.1 spot 11 times, a feat unmatched by any other systems vendor.

IBM Systems Set Performance for TOP500
Since November 1999, IBM systems have been the most powerful on the list, contributing more overall horsepower than any other systems vendor. The trend continues in November 2008 -- IBM’s 188 systems account for about 38 percent (6.5 petaflops) of the new TOP500’s combined compute power of 16.9 petaflops.

The No.4 fastest computer in the world is an IBM® Blue Gene/L system at the NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California, which clocked in at 478.2 teraflops (trillion calculations per second). Team Blue Gene also holds the No.5 spot with a 450.3-teraflop performance from the Blue Gene/P system housed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab in Chicago.

IBM also had the fastest machine in Europe -- the No.11 Blue Gene/P at Juelich Research Center in Germany, running at 180 teraflops. IBM is also the brand behind the fastest computers in: Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Taiwan, South Africa, Israel, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

IBM supercomputers tackle world’s Grand Challenges, from genetic medicine to the hunt for new energy

IBM provides a wide variety of systems and software technology to the supercomputing market, more than any other vendor. The company’s innovative HPC solutions have created a new scientific force for tackling the world’s grand challenges around climate science, the hunt for new sources of energy, creating new gene-based medicines, and have made significant contributions to basic scientific inquiry in physics and biology.

IBM is also leading the move to design all-new hybrid systems -- such as the roadrunner project -- that combine different types of processors for better performance and energy efficiency. IBM is currently building a 360-teraflop hybrid cluster for the University of Toronto, for example, a deal which will pair one of the world’s largest Power6® clusters with IBM’s new iDataPlex® platform (x86) to create an extremely flexible 4000-node supercomputer capable of running a diverse range of software at high levels of performance. Starting in 2009, Canadian scientists plan to use the system to create new methods of medical imaging, among other uses. Part way through installation, the computer has already debuted at No.53 on the new TOP500.

“It’s an honor to hold the record for the world’s most powerful computer, but what is critical is building supercomputers that help advance the global economy and society at large,” said David Turek, VP of Deep Computing at IBM. “We pioneered energy-smart supercomputer designs with Blue Gene in 2000 and build substantially on that heritage each year to the benefit of science and industry. We apply our lessons learned and the innovation that comes from these efforts to IBM’s commercial systems business.”

The Era of Blue Gene
IBM’s chart-topping performance since 1999 has been enabled by the company’s innovative Blue Gene system which uses low-power processors to create ever faster performance for users who have dominated the upper portions of TOP500 rankings going back to 2004.

Since 2004, more than 300 racks worth of Blue Gene systems -- 2,182 teraflops of compute power -- have been in near-constant use by nearly 40 of the world’s leading research agencies. Blue Gene is changing the way research is done, elevating the computational component of scientific inquiry to new importance. The Blue Gene system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has itself been responsible for breakthroughs in physics and materials science, among others that have been lauded on the covers of six prominent professional journals in the past four years -- twice in Nature.

About the roadrunner project. Built by IBM for the NNSA and housed at its Los Alamos National Laboratory, the petaflop-smashing “roadrunner project” system unveiled in June 2008 gets its world-leading power from a hybrid blending of 12,960 IBM PowerXCell 8i Cell Broadband Engine™ processors -- derived from chips that power today’s most popular videogame consoles and 6,948 AMD Opteron Dual-Core processors. The Opteron chips perform basic compute functions, freeing the IBM® PowerXCell 8i chips for the math-intensive calculations that are their specialty. Press release here:

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

IBM’s expertise in building large-scale, energy-smart hardware is also reflected on the “Green500” list of the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputers. IBM has all of the top 10; 24 of the top 25; and 76 of the top 100 systems on the current Green500 list. (

For more information about IBM supercomputing, visit

IBM, Blue Gene, and IBM PowerXcell 8i are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.

Cell Broadband Engine is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. in the United States, other countries, or both and is used under license therefrom.

Other company, product, or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.


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