US heavyweights storm supercomputer league

Yet more supercomputers:

The US government’s latest supercomputer, BlueGene/L, has been officially crowned the most powerful number cruncher on the planet.

The latest TOP500 supercomputer ranking list has undergone a major upheaval, with three new machines in the top four places. The list will be presented on Tuesday at the Supercomputing Conference 2004 in Pittsburgh.

As expected, IBM’s new machine stormed to the top spot with a massive sustained performance of 70.72 teraflops. A single teraflops is one million million ‘floating-point operations’ ‘ intensive mathematical calculations – per second, and is about 100 times faster than the most powerful desktop computer.

This makes BlueGene/L almost twice as powerful as the previous champion, NEC’s Earth Simulator, based at Yokohama, Japan, which is capable of 35.86 teraflops. The Earth Simulator held the number-one spot for two and a half years, but now drops to number three on the list behind another new entrant, NASA’s Columbia, built by SGI, which clocks up 51.87 teraflops.