New supercomputer: MDGrape-3 kicks some IBM ass

Website Newsfactor reveils some juicy details about the now to be operational new supercomputer MDGrape-3, developed by RIKEN, an japanese research-institute.

MDGrape-3’s main task will be protein-folding, pretty similar to what rosetta@home and folding@home are doing.

Interestingly MDGrape-3 is made of specialized CPUs, which are carefully handcrafted and designed especially for this purpose. Because of this MDGrape-3 takes the 1-Peta-FLOPS hurdle with just 4080 CPUs – and the whole system costs just a cheapo 9-millionen USD!
For comparision: The current No. 1 on the list of supercomputers is the BlueGene/L by IBM with 131072 CPUs, crunching for the Lawrence Livermore Lab in the US.

For a comparision i compiled some quick facts about MDGrape-3, BlueGene/L and the Earth Simulator:

  BlueGene/L Earth Simulator MDGrape-3
Vendor IBM NEC Hitachi, Intel, SGI Japan (NEC)
Institute Lawrence Livermore ESC Riken
Location Livermore (CA), USA Yokohama, Japan Yokohama, Japan
FLOPS 280-Tera-FLOPS 40-Tera-FLOPS 1-Peta-FLOPS
CPUs 131072 5120 4808
Costs 250-300 Mio. USD (?) 62.4 Mio. USD 9 Mio. USD
Costs/GFlop 140 USD 8000 USD 15 USD
Power consumption 1.5 MW 18 MW 76 kW
Heat dissipation 1.6 MW 18 MW (?) 76 kW (?)
Footprint 232 square meter 3250 square meter ?

Yeah baby… boot up those FLOPS!

Update: Yeah, it’s FLOPS, not FLOP. I’d also like to point out that some people dount the 9-mio.-USD price-tag, considering that most of the workforce was provided by IBM and Hitachi, and NEC paid for most of the hardware. Got no more information, will keep updating on this.


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