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As 1999 ended, IBM announced its intention to construct a one-petaflop supercomputer. The construction of this system was based on a cellular architecture—the use of relatively small but powerful building blocks used together in sufficient quantities to construct large systems. The first step on the road to a petaflop machine (one quadrillion floating-point operations in a second) is the Blue Gene®/L supercomputer. Blue Gene/L combines a low-power processor with a highly parallel architecture to achieve unparalleled computing performance per unit volume. Implementing the Blue Gene/L packaging involved trading off considerations of cost, power, cooling, signaling, electromagnetic radiation, mechanics, component selection, cabling, reliability, service strategy, risk, and schedule. This paper describes how 1,024 dual-processor compute application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) are packaged in a scalable rack, and how racks are combined and augmented with host computers and remote storage. The Blue Gene/L interconnect, power, cooling, and control systems are described individually and as part of the synergistic whole.
Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.
Date of Publication: March 2005