THE IBM SUPERCOMPUTER
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING ADOOR
The word "supercomputer" entered the mainstream lexicon in
1996 and 1997 when IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer challenged
the world chess champion in two tournaments broadcast around
Since then, IBM has been busy improving its
supercomputer technology and tackling much
BLUE GENE is an IBM project aimed at designing
supercomputers with very high operating
speeds, with low power consumption.
WHAT IS A SUPERCOMPUTER?
A supercomputer is a computer that is at the frontline of current
processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.
The history of supercomputing goes back to the 1960s
The CDC 6600, released in 1964, is generally considered the first
As of June 2013, China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer is the fastest in
the world at 33.86 petaFLOPS.
THE BLUE GENE PROJECT
In December 1999, IBM announced a US $100 million research initiative
for a five year effort to build a massively parallel computer to be applied
in the study of biomolecular phenomena.
The project had two main goals:
to advance our understanding of the mechanism behind protein
folding via large scale simulation.
to explore novel ideas in massively parallel machine architecture
Major areas of investigation included:
The use of this novel platform to meet scientific goals
Making of parallel machines more usable
Achieving performance targets at reasonable cost through a novel
Developed through a partnership with Lawrence Livermore National
WHY THE NAME “BLUE GENE”?
“Blue”: The corporate color of IBM
“Gene”: The intended use of the Blue Gene clusters – Computational
biology, specifically, protein folding
It is the first computer in the blue gene series.
Designed to deliver the most performance per kilowatt of power
Intended to scale to speeds in the hundreds of TFLOPS.
In june 2004 it overtook NEC’s earth simulator as the fastest
Blue Gene/L Architecture
Built using System on a Chip technology in which all functions of a node
(except main memory) are integrated onto a single ASIC.
Has 65,536 compute or I/O nodes, with 131,072 processors
Each node is an ASIC and each ASIC has two 700 MHz IBM PowerPC(440)
Each PPC has 2 64 bit FPUs.
Blue Gene/L Architecture contd..
Compute nodes are packaged two per compute card, with 16 compute cards
plus up to 2 I/O nodes per node board.
There are 32 node boards per cabinet/rack.
The final configuration of BG/L had 64 such racks.
By integration of all essential sub-systems on a single chip, each Compute or
I/O node dissipates low power (about 17 watts, including DRAMs).
3D TORUS NETWORK contd..
Torus n/w connects all the 65,536 compute nodes
Provides high bandwidth nearest neighbour connectivity.
Also preferred for its scalability, cost and packing consideration.
Does not require long cables, no separate switch required.
Torus packets – 32 bytes to 256 bytes(in increments of 32 bytes)
For routing, header includes six hint bits
Torus router consists of three major units – a processor interface,
a send unit and a receive unit.
Low power consumption- twice the performance per watt of a high
Scalable- Scalability from 1 to 64 racks (2048 to 131072 rocessors)
High processing capacity
Low cooling requirements enable extreme scale up
Centralized system management
Costlier – $2m per single rack
Maintenance is not easy
Special kind of linux kernel is required to operate
First supercomputer ever to run over 100 TFLOPS sustained on a
real world application, won the 2005 Gordon Bell Prize.
Till November 2007, the LLNL Blue Gene/L remained at the number
one spot as the world's fastest supercomputer.
In September 2009 president Obama recognized the blue gene
family with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation(USA)
for breakthroughs in science, energy efficiency and analytics.
BG/L showed that a cell architecture is feasible.
Higher performance with less power requirements
No limits to scalability of a blue gene system.
Influenced the way in which mainstream computers of the future
will be built.
Today most of the energy efficient computers in the world are built
on IBM’s supercomputer technology.