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Internet? Try Skynet



IBM Proposes One Computer to Run Entire Internet

Dreaming big; IBM looks to host the entire internet on a single modified Blue Gene supercomputer

Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, is oft misquoted as stating that the world really only would need five computers. Ironically the frequently used, erroneous quotation may come to true by the very hands of the business Watson created.

IBM launched an Epic project with an almost unfathomable goal -- to develop a single supercomputer capable of running the entire internet as a web application. The project, codenamed Kittyhawk (detailed in a white paper by IBM) created quite the stir in internet technology community.

While the software details descend quickly into the realm of the cerebral, one number that jumps off the page is the estimate for the number of cores and memory for the finished proposed system -- 67.1 million cores with 32PB of memory.

The system is based on IBM's Blue Gene/P architecture, which takes millions of cores and arranges them in a hierarchal architecture. At the lowest level four 850 MHz Power PC cores run on a single chip, with built in memory controllers and interconnects. The next level up is the card, which contains 32 of these quad core chips known as "nodes." Up a level, 16 cards compose a midplane. A server rack has two midplanes, yielding a total of 1024 nodes, or 4096 processors. Each server rack has 2TB of memory to play with. A maximum of 16,384 racks can be networked to yield the finally staggering metrics. As each rack has an I/O bandwidth of 640Gb/s, a "full" 67.1m core system would sport 10.4Pb/s of bandwidth.

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