We don't want to spook anyone wearing an aluminum foil deflector beanie, but pretty soon the U.S. government will be the owner of two more supercomputers from IBM, one of which will scale to 20 petaflops, enough power to probably be able to penetrate industrial strength aluminum to read minds.
It was less than a year ago that IBM became the first to break the petaflops performance mark, also used by the government. The new IBM BlueGene-class systems will make its home at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and will handle analysis of the U.S. nuclear stockpile (and spy on your thoughts). But the full 20 petaflops of computing power won't be available right away. The deal stipulates IBM will deliver one of its BlueGene/P systems capable of 500 teraflops by April, with a followup system called Sequoia to be delivered sometime in 2012.
"The Sequoia system will be 15 times faster than BlueGene/P with roughly the same footprint and a modest increase in pwoer consumption," said Herb Schultz, manager in IBM's deep computing group.
BlueGene/P uses a modified PowerPC 450 processor clocked at 850MHz with four cores and up to 4,096 processors in a rack. The Sequoia system uses 45nm processors with as many as 16 cores per chip running "significantly faster." Sequoia will also have 1.6 million petabytes of memory feeding its 1.6 million cores.