The ASC Purple supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The ASC Purple supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


Thanks to its so-called Purple supercomputer, IBM claims a major breakthrough in the way massive computer networks access and share information. In a joint effort code-named "Project Fastball," IBM and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) demonstrated over 102 Gbytes/sec of sustained read-and-write performance to a single file. Special software transferred information between thousands of processors and thousands of disk-storage devices.

The Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) supercomputer at LLNL is the third most-powerful supercomputer in the world. Its world-record performance used 416 individual storage controllers combined with 104 Power-based eServer p575 nodes. The resulting file system was 1.6 petabytes — one of the largest high-performance file systems currently deployed. To demonstrate scalability, researchers maintained performance as over 1,000 clients drove workloads to the file system.

The breakthrough is expected to spur development of data-intensive applications in areas including customized medicine, online gaming, entertainment, and homeland security, as well as in traditional high-performance computing.