By harnessing a processor originally built for the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3, IBM is building a new supercomputer that is expected to break the petaflop barrier by topping speedz of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.
The new computer, code-named Roadrunner, is a joint project between IBM and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where it will be installed. Henry Brandt, a senior technical staff member with IBM, said the supercomputer will be built in two phases. The first phase, which cost Congress $35 million, is comprised of a base cluster that runs on the
Linux operating system and uses IBM System x 3755 servers based on AMD Opteron technology.
That phase is slated to be shipped to the national lab next month.
But the computer's real speed boost will come in late in 2007 or early in 2008 when the second phase, which doesn't yet have a price tag, rolls out. At that point, the cluster will be upgraded with the addition of Cell processors, which were originally designed for video game platforms. The hybrid machine will run both types of clusters, boosting peak performance to an expected 1.6 petaflops.