Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bull Ushers in the Newest Supercomputer

The article I read on is entitled, “Bull goes green with new supercomputer” by Mikael Ricknas. The article describes a computer that has been designed to be energy efficient. This new computer known as Bullx, is produced by Bull, a company that opens consumers to new, “technologies, solutions and services that fully support enterprise strategies, reduce operating costs and risks.”

In recent years, consumers have started to pay close attention to environmentally friendly practices. Because of this, companies have started to alter there marketing strategies to appeal to the eco-friendly consumer. Whether it be Starbucks who now promotes their new plastic cups being made with 15% less plastic and 45% less carbon emissions or Home Depot who now houses an “Eco-Options” product line, companies are realizing the importance of environmental sustainability. Although it does not produce products for the every day consumer, Bull has also jumped on board this eco-trend.

Ushering in this new piece of technology, Didier Lamouche, Chairman and CEO of Bull commented, "The period of acute crisis the world is going through is actually giving us an opportunity to take a closer look at the practices we have all been using, and to rebuild a world that should be based on two foundation stones: innovation and environmental awareness” (

So what is it? Bullx is a supercomputer that is based on blade servers. Blade servers are essentially computers that have been stripped down to both save space and minimize power consumption. Further, because of their size, blade servers are easier to install and maintain. Along with these blades are accelerator blades which use “graphics processors to speed up floating point calculations.” Floating point calculations are considered to be calculations over very large numbers. A final interesting point about this supercomputer is its ultra-capacitor module, a module that improves the efficiency of the electrical power supply by 10-15% compared to other power supplies. In addition, the Bullx utilizes a cooling door that consumes 75% less power than a standard operating system of this magnitude. Because this supercomputer is processing very large amounts of information, it needs to have this mechanism in order for it not to short circuit. But wait…Bullx “comes with integrated protection against short bursts of electrical power.” This means that, “customers won’t have to use uninterruptible power supplies which makes the data centre less energy efficient.” An uninterruptible power supply is an emergency battery backup system. It is obvious that an immense amount of energy would be needed if a supercomputer like this failed.

These Bullx computers will be used primarily in the government sector, according to the article. The article concludes by naming several applications including “seismic processing, weather forecasting and crash analysis,” all fields that analyze mass amounts of data. Although this may be efficient and green, the estimated cost for one of these machines is between “tens of thousands of euros to tens of millions of euros.” Although expensive, I think it might still save money and electricity after its full use.


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