Catherine (tenthz) wrote,

IBM fights for 'fastest computer' title

Mon, Nov 1, 2004

There is a contest shaping up as interesting as the presidential race. The honors, bragging rights and financial possibilities that go with being recognized as the company with the world's fastest computer soon will be awarded. The race for the title is neck- and-neck.
IBM is in heated competition with NEC of Japan and Silicon Graphics, which is based in California but has a manufacturing facility in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
NEC is the current holder of the "world's fastest computer" title, and has held the title since April 18, 2002. The ranking is listed in the TOP 500 awards given twice a year. The next TOP 500 announcement will be at the Supercomputer 2004 conference in Pittsburgh, which begins Nov. 11.
In September IBM announced that its Blue Gene/L supercomputer, built in Rochester, runs faster than NEC's Earth Simulator. It was a spectacular achievement. Although the top-of-the-hill position wasn't official, it was a momentous announcement.
The glory was fleeting.
Just last week, Silicon Graphics made a claim that it had a supercomputer that could process data faster than IBM's Blue Gene. Given that the TOP 500 ranking is just days away, it seemed IBM would be denied the top slot. Things, however, are not always as they seem.
Late last week, Steve Lewis, head of IBM's Rochester Blue Gene team, said that the announced speed of Blue Gene is not the speed that will be submitted to the TOP 500 competition. Lewis was cryptic and unwilling to make any definitive statement, but he also did not concede that the Rochester team was beaten.
"We'll see," he said with a small smile.
For people weary of the presidential race or needed a good fix of competition due to the pro hockey lockout, the supercomputer race could be a good substitute.
For patriotic sorts, the supercomputer challenge lets a person root for team America. It's IBM and Silicon Graphics against Japan's NEC.
For a more local angle, it comes down to the Minnesota-made Blue Gene against the Wisconsin-made Silicon Graphics machine. Talk about competition. Ultimately it's about cheering for the home team.
Go IBM Rochester! The title is yours to take. The city is pulling for you.

(editorial from the )
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