Scientists in Germany can now boast the fastest super computer in Europe – on paper at least. The new IBM number-crunching giant is capable of performing 8.9 trillion floating point calculations per second – a cool 8.9 teraflops in supercomputer parlance.
It lives at Research Centre Juelich, which is working in five key areas: matter, energy, information technology, life, and environment.
Scientists across the country will use the machine to tackle computationally-intensive problems. These include the search for a long-term environmentally compatible energy supply, predicting the diffusion of harmful materials in soil by modelling underground water-flow, and tracking down minute but possibly life-threatening defects in man and material.
The quoted performance is the theoretical maximum. At the time of writing, we were unable to confirm its actual performance, so cannot say exactly where it fits in the world's fastest supercomputer Top 500. However, with the big kahuna on that list checking in at an awe-inspiring theoretical maximum of 40.96 teraflops, it's clear that Europe is still some way behind Japan and the US. The first European supercomputer to feature on the 2003 league table is France’s AlphaServer, at number 15.
According to a comparison of the supercomputing firepower available to Europe's academia, here, Germany is comfortably in front: academics have more than twice as many teraflops at their disposal as rivals in France and the UK.
And so to the specs: the German machine has 41 IBM p690 servers with 32 processors per unit making a grand total of 1312 processors using the POWER4+ copper/SOI technology. The cluster is managed by IBM's Cluster Systems Management software based on AIX 5.2 - the company's Unix operating system.
Cluster nodes interconnect using the pSeries High Performance Switch, providing a redundant low latency and high bandwidth (more than 100 Gb/s per server) communication network to all processors. ®