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New supercomputer at DOE lab to study climate

New supercomputer at DOE lab to study climate

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is installing a 4 TFLOP IBM Corp. supercomputer based on Unix server technology that should become commercially available by early next year.

The 800-processor Oak Ridge system will be used to study long-range climate trends and conduct molecular biology studies and experiments involving nano-scale technologies, said Thomas Zachariah, a director of computer science at the U.S Department of Energy-funded laboratory.

The system will be based on IBM's soon-to-be-released Power4 microprocessor technology and will consist of a cluster of 32-processor IBM SP multiprocessor boxes tied together using high-speed interconnects.

The system is expected to have a peak performance of four trillion calculations per second, making it one of the five most powerful systems in the world when fully installed next year, said Peter Ungaro, an IBM vice president.

What makes the announcement important for corporations is that commercial systems based on the same technology should start shipping by early next year, Ungaro said.

The Power4 is a 170-million transistor microprocessor that actually has two CPUs etched onto a single piece of silicon. The technology will power IBM's next-generation Regatta class of high-end Unix servers, he said.

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