IBM has built a super-computer that is the fastest in the world. It can calculate 36.01 teraflops per second (36.01 trillion calculations per second), bypassing the long standing record holder, NEC's Earth Simulator (35.86 teraflops).
It is noteworthy not only due to it's speed record, but also as it is only one hundredth of the size of NEC's machine and consumes only one twenty-eighth of the power per computation.
However, I would not wish to pay the electricity bill; it has 16,000 processors to feed!
IBM has grabbed the lead back with it's BlueGene/L machine, smashing the previous record. It peaked at 70.2 teraflops (makes my 1.9GB machine seem like a stone age relic!). NASA's Columbia, is now in second place with a creditable 51.87TF and using only 10,240 Intel chips.
This creates an enviable lead for the USA, with both first and second places in the world.
When this monster is completed in 2005, it is estimated it will perform at around 200TF, using 32,768 modified IBM chips.
IBM's Blue Gene hits an amazing 135.5 teraflops (trillions per second) by doubling the number of racks to 32. Each rack contains 1024 dual core chips, so by my reckoning, it's using 32,768 dual core processors. It is claimed that by the end of its development, scheduled for this year, the size will double again, with an expected 270 teraflops speed.
If you're interested, you can buy one for around $2 million per rack!
So, how long would it take to crack my 128-bit encrypted on-line payment transactions, I wonder, on the IBM with its 135.5 teraflops? I suspect it may still be centuries (but probably much quicker to crack it through the password).
Another question: how many gigaflops can the latest Intel and the latest AMD processors destined for PC use achieve? Presumbably, the AMD gives a better score relative to its clock frequency than the Intel.
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