The IBM Blue Gene series of energy-efficient supercomputers has been named the Medal of Technology and Innovation award winner, the highest honor for technological achievement for outstanding contributions related to the nation's competiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through the development and commercialization of technological products. The medal program is administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and is awarded annually to individuals, teams, and companies.
The Blue Gene leverages a high-performance, low-power, system-on-a-chip architecture offering extreme integration that dramatically improves reliability increases energy efficiency and reduces operating costs. Much of the software needed to operate Blue Gene comes from the open source community and was developed by laboratories and universities around the world. Argonne National Labs was involved in fostering that community as well as developing key components of the system software. For example, the Blue Gene leverages Argonne's MPICH, the version of the Message Passing Interface that scientists use to write parallel programs capable of scaling to hundreds of thousands of CPU cores. Computer scientists are also working on extending the capabilities of Blue Gene with advanced math libraries, improved parallel file systems, and even experimental operating systems such as ZeptoOS, which permits users to run Linux on the Blue Gene's compute nodes.
"The Blue Gene supercomputers are an outstanding example of our investment in nuclear security providing the tools to tackle broader national challenges," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "This machine, which was originally developed to ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile without testing, has led to amazing advances in science and discovery."
The U.S. Department of Energy began an R&D partnership with IBM in 2001 to develop the Blue Gene platform. Argonne National Lab and Lawrence Livermore National Lab worked on key aspects of the design and provided critical software components to ensure it was well suited to solve challenges in energy, the environment and national security.