From Deep Blue to Summit – 30 Years of Supercomputing Innovation

By Gabor Samu, IBM

November 16, 2018

This week, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the SC conference, we are highlighting some of the most significant IBM contributions to supercomputing over the past 30 years.

In May of 1997, the front page of the New York Times announced that an IBM computer named Deep Blue had beaten the chess grandmaster, Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue became the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls. The system was capable of evaluating 200 million positions per second. It was the 259th most powerful supercomputer in the world back then and provided one of the earliest examples of the partnership that would develop between Artificial Intelligence and high performance computing.

Then In 1999, the project that would become IBM Blue Gene ushered in a new era of high-performance computing. IBM began exploring novel ideas in massively parallel machine architecture and software, including how to make massively parallel machines more usable, cost-effective, and energy-efficient. In November 2004 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the first of many IBM Blue Gene supercomputers was deployed and took its place as the most powerful computer in the world, with a record performance of 70.72 Teraflops. The LLNL Blue Gene/L installation held the first position in the Top500 list for more than three years, a very long tenure in the world of supercomputers, until in June 2008 it was overtaken by IBM’s Cell-based Roadrunner system at Los Alamos National Labs – the first system to surpass the 1 Petaflop mark.

IBM contributions to supercomputing over the past three decades have not only helped researchers explore some of the most complex and fascinating mysteries of the universe, these efforts have also earned IBM teams a number of prestigious awards. For example, starting in 1999, IBM teams were awarded or shared Gordon Bell Prizes in more than half a dozen separate years. Named for one of the founding fathers of supercomputing, the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize is awarded to innovators who advance high performance computing.

A year after that first IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer began operating at Lawrence Livermore, an IBM team leveraged its power for pioneering materials science simulations and won a Gordon Bell Prize. The next year, in 2006, a large-scale electronic structure simulation of the heavy metal molybdenum conducted on Blue Gene/L won an IBM team the 2006 Gordon Bell Prize. By 2013, IBM Blue Gene systems had helped map the human genome, flown airplanes, pinpointed tumors, predicted climate trends, and then in 2013 simulated bubbles — 15,000 of them, to be precise. This particular research project achieved a new supercomputing record and was awarded the Gordon Bell Prize that year. Then in November of 2015, IBM yet again shared the Gordon Bell Prize when scientists, including an IBM team, realistically simulated the forces inside the Earth that drive plate tectonics. The team’s work heralded a major step toward better understanding earthquakes and volcanic activity.

One of the most interesting projects that led to IBM winning a Gordon Bell Prize came in 2009 – for simulating a cat’s brain. BlueMatter, an algorithm created in collaboration with Stanford University, exploited the Blue Gene supercomputing architecture in order to noninvasively measure and map the connections between all cortical and sub-cortical locations within the human brain. The project achieved the first near real-time cortical simulation of a brain containing 1 billion spiking neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses, which exceeds the scale of a cat cortex. The result marked significant progress toward creating a computer system that simulated and emulated the brain’s abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction, and cognition, while rivaling the brain’s low power and energy consumption and compact size.

The year before, IBM had been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation (NSTMF). This prestigious medal was awarded to IBM: “For the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer and its systems architecture, design, and software, which have delivered fundamental new science, unsurpassed speed, and unparalleled energy efficiency and have had a profound impact worldwide on the high-performance computing industry.

Of course, everyone remembers 2011, when IBM Watson competed on the Jeopardy! Television game show against legendary champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings and won the first place prize of $1 million for charity.  At that time, Watson’s main innovation was in its ability to quickly execute hundreds of proven language analysis algorithms simultaneously. During the televised competitions, Watson, consisting of ten racks of ten IBM POWER 750 servers, was represented at the podium by an avatar of IBM’s Smarter Planet logo, whose moving lines went green when Watson cracked a thorny problem, and orange when the answer was wrong.

By 2018, IBM had once again taken over the two top spots in the Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Along with Oak Ridge National Lab’s Summit platform, ranked currently as the world’s fastest supercomputer, IBM also unveiled another member of the CORAL program – Sierra – at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Summit and Sierra will help model supernovas; pioneer new materials; and explore cancer, genetics, and the environment, among many other tasks.

These are just a small sampling of the many contributions IBM has made to supercomputing over the past 30 years. Imagine what the next 30 years will bring.

Return to Solution Channel Homepage

IBM Resources

Follow @IBMSystems

IBM Systems on Facebook

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Is Amazon’s Plunge into Server Chips a Watershed Moment?

December 11, 2018

For several years now the big cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, et al – have been transforming from technology consumers into technology creators in hardware and software. The most recent example bei Read more…

By John Russell

Mellanox Uses Univa to Extend Silicon Design HPC Operation to Azure

December 11, 2018

Call it a corollary to Murphy’s Law: When a system is most in demand, when end users are most dependent on the system performing as required, when it’s crunch time – that’s when the system is most likely to blow up. Or make you wait in line to use it. Read more…

By Doug Black

Clemson’s Cautionary Cryptomining Tale

December 11, 2018

In some ways, the bigger the computer, the more vulnerable it is to cryptomining as Clemson University discovered after cryptominers dug into its Palmetto supercomputer. When a number of nodes on Clemson University’s P Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Blurring the Lines Between HPC and AI @ SC18

The dominant topic at SC18 was the convergence of HPC and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with some of the biggest research and enterprise HPC users providing perspectives on how HPC and AI are moving closer together. Read more…

Data West Brings Technology Leaders to SDSC

December 6, 2018

Data and technology enthusiasts from around the world descended upon the San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) for the third annual Data West conference, which is taking place this week on the campus of the University o Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Topology Can Help Us Find Patterns in Weather

December 6, 2018

Topology--–the study of shapes-- seems to be all the rage. You could even say that data has shape, and shape matters. Shapes are comfortable and familiar conc Read more…

By James Reinders

Zettascale by 2035? China Thinks So

December 6, 2018

Exascale machines (of at least a 1 exaflops peak) are anticipated to arrive by around 2020, a few years behind original predictions; and given extreme-scale performance challenges are not getting any easier, it makes sense that researchers are already looking ahead to the next big 1,000x performance goal post: zettascale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Robust Quantum Computers Still a Decade Away, Says Nat’l Academies Report

December 5, 2018

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine yesterday released a report – Quantum Computing: Progress and Prospects – whose optimism about Read more…

By John Russell

Revisiting the 2008 Exascale Computing Study at SC18

November 29, 2018

A report published a decade ago conveyed the results of a study aimed at determining if it were possible to achieve 1000X the computational power of the the Read more…

By Scott Gibson

AWS Debuts Lustre as a Service, Accelerates Data Transfer

November 28, 2018

From the Amazon re:Invent main stage in Las Vegas today, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy introduced Amazon FSx for Lustre, citing a growing body of applicati Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Launches First Arm Cloud Instances

November 28, 2018

AWS, a macrocosm of the emerging high-performance technology landscape, wants to be everywhere you want to be and offer everything you want to use (or at least Read more…

By Doug Black

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar Interviewed at SC18

November 21, 2018

During the 30th annual SC conference in Dallas last week, SC18 hosted U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul M. Dabbar. In attendance Nov. 13-14, Dabbar delivered remarks at the Top500 panel, met with a number of industry stakeholders and toured the show floor. He also met with HPCwire for an interview, where we discussed the role of the DOE in advancing leadership computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

The Convergence of Big Data and Extreme-Scale HPC

August 31, 2018

As we are heading towards extreme-scale HPC coupled with data intensive analytics like machine learning, the necessary integration of big data and HPC is a curr Read more…

By Rob Farber

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This