Seven Wonders of the IT World

The fastest supercomputer. The most intriguing data center. The constantly changing core at the heart of Linux. Take a tour of the most impressive and most unusual marvels of the IT world.

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World's fastest supercomputer:

IBM BlueGene/L (BGL)

Powered by: 65,536 dual-processor computer nodes.

The BlueGene/L supercomputer at home at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Home base: This 2,500-square-foot marvel lives at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

Claim to fame: Helps researchers answer physics questions about stockpiled nuclear weapons and materials like Plutonium.

Power requirements: 1.5 megawatts (equivalent to a 2,000-horsepower diesel engine).

Clocked speed: Rated fastest in the world after clocking sustained performance of 280.6 trillion operations per second, or teraflops.

Approximate cost: As part of a larger contract including other supercomputers, just under $100 million.

Measure of compute capability: To match the power of this behemoth, every man, woman and child on Earth would need to perform 60,000 calculations per second (without transposing digits or forgetting to "carry the one").

Brawny bandwidth: Its internal communication network would support 150 simultaneous phone conversations for every person in the United States.

Waiting in the wings: IBM has announced a successor, Blue Gene/P, designed to deliver three times the processing power of the Blue Gene/L.

Next: A Most Lilliputian PC

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