[linux-elitists] An elite machine

sherringham alastair@calliope.demon.co.uk
Tue Sep 9 14:32:24 PDT 2003

In other news ....

A good article in the Economist this week, in their "technology
quarterly". Unfortunately, it's "premier" content on their web site,
but luckily I buy the magazine.

The article is called "Soul of a newer machine" and describes the
plans and first fruits of IBM's "Blue Gene" supercomputer. Staging the
introduction with two distinct architectures ;

"The first, called Blue Gene/C, is the original clean-sheet design.
The second, called Blue Gene/L, is a new, general purpose, scaled-down
architecture that draws on existing commercial technologies to produce
a machine which, all being well, will be running by late 2004 at
around a third of a teraflop .."


"The Blue Gene/L architecture is a clever trade-off between industry
standard components and exotic architecural innovation. It will
contain over 66,000  processing chips, each containing two processing
cores borrowed from IBM's PowerPC 440GX processor, plus extra floating
point units to speed calculation, and on-chip memory. These chips are
divided into 1,024 nodes of 65 chips each. Each node has one
coordinating chip , running the Linux operating system, that farms out
work to 64 subordinate chips."


"... The resulting machine is, in effect, a 1,024-node Linux 'cluster'
with 64 additional processing chips inside each node."


"The rise of Linux since the Blue Gene project began has, says Dr
Pulleyblank, been 'a godsend to us in many ways'. The Blue Gene
project has become more ambitious than originally planned. But thanks
to Linux, it has also become more practical, and more likely to
produce commercial spin-offs."


Alastair Sherringham

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