Fujitsu may beat IBM with fastest Linux supercomputer

It's building the computer for Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research

IBM has a challenger in the race to deliver the world's fastest Linux-based supercomputer. A day after the U.S. company said it had received an order for what it said was the fastest such machine, Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. announced an order for a faster machine that it expects to put into service at about the same time.

The Fujitsu computing cluster will contain 2,048 as-yet-unidentified processors and stands to deliver a peak performance of 12.4 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), the company said in a statement today. Fujitsu received the order from Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken), a governmental research organization that will use the computer mainly in biotechnology research. Delivery is scheduled for March 2004.

IBM said yesterday that it plans to deliver in March a Linux-based supercomputer to Japan's National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (see story). The IBM machine, based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron 246 processors, will have a peak performance of 11.2 TFLOPS.

That speed places it just past the current fastest Linux machine in the world, a computer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the U.S. that can manage 11.1 TFLOPS. In addition to being the fastest Linux computer, the machine is also the third most powerful supercomputer in the world, according to the latest edition of the Top 500 supercomputer ranking.

The Fujitsu machine ordered by Riken stands to outpace the Lawrence Livermore and AIST computers, although all three will be overshadowed by an even more powerful Linux-based computer expected in late 2004. That computer, called Red Storm and currently under construction by Cray Inc. for Sandia National Laboratories in the U.S., is expected to deliver a peak performance of 40 TFLOPS.

Its speed is expected to make Red Storm not just the most powerful Linux-based computer in the world but also a contender for the title of most powerful computer in the world. The current titleholder is the Earth Simulator, an NEC Corp.-built computer in use at Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, which has a peak performance of 41 TFLOPS. That's slightly faster than Red Storm, but Sandia has an option to upgrade Red Storm to 60 TFLOPS.

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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