What made QPACE suddenly so popular!

Have you heard about QPACE which is a German engineered supercomputer?

It is almost a paradigm shift for a mass of energy hungry machines: from an environmental friendliness perspective!

QPACE was recognised as the most energy efficient supercomputer in the world. This recognition was given to it at the 2009 Supercomputing Conference in Portland, Oregon, USA.

What else is special about QPACE? It was developed by an academic consortium of universities and research centers as well as the German IBM research and development center in Böblingen within the framework of a state-sponsored research association. It has best of both academic, corporate and government power. In fact the QPACE core team consists of 20 researchers and developers.

I decided to blog about QPACE for two key reasons.

The first reasons is until recently, performance of supercomputers was solely associated with speed. Very little or no focus was on the energy efficiency. Supercomputers consume super amount of energy which make them environmentally unfriendly. Why do they produce so much energy? Because of the processing power! For example, each of the QPACE installations in Jülich and Wuppertal can reach a maximum performance of 100 TeraFlops (double precision). That equates to 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) computing operations per second.

The second reason is relating it to my blog category which is schreIBMaschine. How does it relate to schreIBMaschine? It directly relates because the heart of QPACE is the IBM PowerXCell 8i processor, an enhancement of the Cell/B.E. processor, which originally was developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM for the Sony PlayStation 3. This means a lot of smart brains worked on this innovative piece of machine which may have serious impact on our lives.

You can download a full text free scientific paper about QPACE published in a conference by Peking University, Beijing, China from this link.

Kudos on QPACE team!

Over to you now…
What do you expect from Supercomputers from functionality and operational perspective?
How can supercomputers help us improve our lives?

Dr. Mehmet Yildiz

As recommended at Julich site, more information about this initiative could be obtained from:
Prof. Dr. Tilo Wettig
University of Regensburg
Institute for Theoretical Physics
Tel.: +49 (0)941 943-2004

2 thoughts on “What made QPACE suddenly so popular!”

  1. Now what’s relation to reputation management ?

    Once dropped their traces on the internet, everyone needs to be permanently alert about their reputation in my book.

    The consequence now is that your mobile, computer or whatever device needs to be on stand by and alert you with a beep whenever something’s being published mentioning you or your keywords.

    Presently computers are just huge energy wasting items.

    Derived from a supercomputer like yours small devices will have an even better energy level and may be able to be completely independent from the plug some day in near future.

    Another aspect . . . you speak about the two sides of this particular computer. Like everything in life we use to start with focus on one side only.

    Humans that is . . . profession, professional background, profile, whatever.

    Now it’s becoming more and more clear that you also need to show your social side.

    Thank you, Mehmet.

  2. Thanks, very informative indeed!

    Supercomputers for me are at the heart of every major development effort, especially when it comes to making predictions on very complex scientific issues, e.g. nuclear explosions, wind tunnel experiments, etc.

    Despite their energy consumption, supercomputers do save a lot of power and resources in other areas in return, so I really think this needs to be looked at from a wholistic perspective. Every successful simulation of wind tunnel tests for e.g. a new aircraft saves hundreds of hours of fuel-burning real-life test campaigns. As with the nuclear explosion simulations (where, of course, the necessity of tests of this kind should also be discussed), the energy consumption of a supercomputer is in no relation to the environmental impact a real nuclear detonation.

    So, is the “energy balance” of supercomputers positive or negative? Even though this is very hard to calculate, I remain convinced that supercomputers are absolutely necessary, and that even though their efficiency needs to improve as with any other piece of machinery, they already have a “green” footprint due to all the testing they have moved from the real to the virtual world.

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