IBM is shedding light on a program to create the world's fastest supercomputer, illuminating a dual-pronged strategy, an unusual new processor design and a proclivity for the Linux operating system.
"Blue Gene" is an ambitious project to expand the horizons of supercomputing, with the ultimate goal of creating a system that can perform one quadrillion calculations per second, or one petaflop. IBM expects a machine it calls Blue Gene/P to be the first to achieve the computational milestone. Today's fastest machine, NEC's Earth Simulator is comparatively slow--about one-thirtieth of a petaflop--but fast enough to worry the United States government that the country is losing its computing lead to Japan.
"Blue Gene is a completely odd-ball, you've-never-seen-anything-like-this-before design," said Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice. "It is not custom everything, (but) it is still very exotic compared to anything you can buy."