First ARM-based supercomputer aims for Green 500

An energy-efficient supercomputer, the world's first built using ARM-based processors, is being put together at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in Spain, reports tech news site ComputerWorld.

The system is based on 1,000 Tegra 3 chips - Nvidia's system-on-a-chip designed primarily for smartphones and tablets, introduced earlier this month. Each Tegra 3 chip includes a quad-core ARM CPU. The chips are being paired with discrete graphics processors from Nvidia to speed up scientific and maths calculations.

While the supercomputer, with a CPU-only computational capacity of around 300 gigaflops, isn't anywhere near powerful enough to trouble the TOP 500 list of the most powerful supercomputers in the word - currently headed up by the 10-petaflop Sparc64-based Fujitsu K Computer at the Rikagaku Kenkyusho research lab in Kobe, Japan, its creators are hoping the low power consumption of ARM processors should earn the system a place in the Green 500 list of the world's most energy-efficient High Performance Computers (HPCs).

The specifications for the €14 million system will be finalised next year, and form part of the newly launched Europe-wide Mont Blanc project, which aims to build supercomputers that consume 15 to 30 times less energy than existing systems.