IBM has signed a deal to build a supercomputer capable of 40 trillion floating-point operations per second (40Tflops) in Spain, where it will form the heart of a new National Centre for Supercomputing.
The general-purpose computer will be used to conduct research into genetic abnormalities, contagious diseases, climate change and materials science.
Spain's Ministry of Science and Technology claims it will be the fastest in Europe, coming a close second in peak performance to the world's fastest supercomputer, the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, built by NEC.
Construction of the computer will take at least six months, and the projected performance of the computer may have been overtaken by other machines by the time it is finished, according to Adalio Sanchez, general manager for IBM's eServer pSeries products.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has portrayed the contract as a big win for Spain, adding that the computer could have gone to other countries including France, Germany, the UK or a research lab in the US.
IBM was looking around for a research institute with which to collaborate on construction of the computer, and the deal could have gone to a number of places.
The Spanish government will invest €70m in the National Centre for Supercomputing over four years.
IBM expected the centre would be built at the Technical University of Catalonia, which already hosts a number of advanced computing facilities, and with which the company already has strong links.
The computer will contain 4,500 of IBM's 64-bit Power series microprocessors and will run the Linux operating system.
It will be built using the next generation of IBM's JS20 BladeCentre servers. Existing-generation blades each contain two PowerPC 970 processors running at 1.6GHz and up to 4Gbytes of Ram, and ship with either SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 or Turbolinux Enterprise Server 8.
The computer will change the supercomputing landscape in Spain, as its peak performance will be around 52 times that of the country's record-holder, the Centre for Supercomputing in Galicia, which ranks number 227 in a list of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers maintained by researchers in the US and Germany.
Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service