Go on. Ask this IBM System x iDataPlex to do as many calculations as there are stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.
Hold on. It won’t take a second. Not even close to one.
Although its name may be ungainly, the University of Toronto’s new supercomputer performs so elegantly it can churn through 300 trillion pieces of information in the time it took Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to run 10 metres at a Toronto track meet last week.
And with a measly 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, galactic-sized calculations will be child’s play.
But the new computer – which vaults to the position of Canada’s most powerful upon having its last piece fired up today – will be charged with solving both astronomical and earthbound problems.
“This is to computing what the CN Tower was to architecture in Canada,” says Chris Pratt, an executive with IBM Canada.
“It has the ability to simulate and predict about 1,000 years of the Earth’s climate in about four days.”
Built for U of T’s SciNet Consortium, which includes the school’s research hospitals, the computer will be working on everything from medical imaging and the likely progress of climate change to the forces at play as the universe dawned some 13 billion years ago.
The system, which began operating in stages last year, puts some 30,240 of the world’s most powerful Intel processors together in 45 file-like stacks. It can run as many of those processors as required.
And, according to the latest TOP500 ranking of supercomputers, it enters full service as the world’s 12th most powerful.