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Supercomputing has got the blues

June 07, 2008

So far as I can tell, there is no supercomputer called Blue Cheese. I can't imagine why not. After all, ever since IBM's supercomputer Deep Blue trounced World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, blue has been the color of high performance computing hardware.

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 I guess it's all because IBM is known as Big Blue and followed up Deep Blue with the Blue Gene family of supercomputers -- the /L line that has set all kinds of records for processing power, the /P line that is designed to deliver continuous 1-petaflop performance and has been seeing delivered systems within the past year, and the /Q line, planned for 2010-2012 and promising 10 petaflops.

 

Sort of makes your eyes glaze over, doesn't it, thinking about all that processing power. What I could do with 10 petaflops. Actually I have no idea what I'd do with 10 petaflops. But people trying to predict the weather or understand the brain or beat Go masters would know.

 

Blue Gene implementations often are given local or task-suggestive names, hence New York Blue, Blue Protein, and Blue Fern.

 

But that's just the tip of the blue iceberg. A little googling will turn up Blue Sky, Blue Oak, Blue Hawaii, Blue Horizon, Pinnacle Blue, Blue Pacific, Blue C, Blue Ice, Blue Brain, Blue Mountain, Blue Planet, and Blue Ocean. Blue Waters is an NSCA project at UIUC to develop the first petascale computing system for open scientific research, with a sustained performance of two petaflops, to go online in 2011. And since 2004 the Ohio Supercomputer Center has been pushing Blue Collar Computing: High Performance Computing for the Rest of Us.

 

Refreshingly, and appropriately to those of us who know something about IU, the Indiana University supercomputer is named Big Red.

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