The system, called Blue Gene Watson and located at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center, performed 91.3 trillion calculations per second, or 91.3 teraflops. That means it's second only to IBM's original Blue Gene/L system, the fastest supercomputer in the world, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and clocked at 135 teraflops.
IBM's Watson announcement will come two weeks before an expected bevy of such results, when researchers plan to release the latest list of the world's 500 fastest machines. The list is unveiled twice yearly at supercomputing conferences.
The higher speed, measured with an algebraic calculation test called Linpack, puts IBM another notch ahead of Silicon Graphics, whose Columbia system at NASA reached 51.9 teraflops last fall.
Big Blue has a healthy lead in the list and expects to stay on top. The Livermore machine is in line for another doubling in size and, roughly, performance.
IBM sells the Blue Gene systems for about $2 million per rack; each rack has 1,024 processors, and Blue Gene Watson has 20 racks. IBM also rents out access to the machines.
Blue Gene Watson has been used for protein simulations that tie into biology and drug development research.