Lenovo leads effort to build 1,000-teraflop supercomputer

Chinese big iron would be eight times faster than IBM's reigning champ

China's Lenovo Group has begun work on a project to build a computer that is nearly ten times more powerful than the world's fastest supercomputer, a company spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

When completed, the Lenovo supercomputer will offer performance of 1,000 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second), according to Jean Cai, a spokeswoman for Lenovo in Beijing. No specific date was given for the completion of the project.

However, the Lenovo supercomputer is expected to be ready sometime during China's 11th Five-year Plan, which spans the period from 2006 to 2010. The five-year plans are a remnant of China's days as a centrally planned economy and continue to be used as outlines of the government's goals for economic and social development.

China will need more supercomputing power in the years ahead to maintain its economic growth and development, said the official People's Daily newspaper in a report that announced the project. While this computing power will be needed to meet the demands of future economic development, China cannot rely on other countries to develop a supercomputer that meets its needs, the report said.

If the Lenovo project is successful, the 1,000-teraflop supercomputer will far outstrip the performance of the world's fastest existing computers.

At present, China's fastest supercomputer is the Shanghai Supercomputer Center's Dawning 4000A, built by Chinese high-performance server maker Dawning Information. With a top measured performance of 8 teraflops, the Dawning 4000A is ranked number 31 on Top500.org's list of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The world's fastest supercomputer is IBM's BlueGene/L, which is owned by the University of California' Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Benchmark tests conducted on BlueGene/L have measured the computer's top performance at 137 teraflops, according to Top500.org.

Additional details about the Lenovo supercomputer project are not yet available, Cai says. "This project is still in the very initial stage," she says.

Lenovo has some experience with high-performance computing. The company's DeepComp 6800 supercomputer, which is owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is ranked number 72 on the Top 500 supercomputer list. DeepComp 6800's top measured performance is 4 teraflops, according to Top500.org.

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