IBM Corp. signed a deal Wednesday to build a supercomputer capable of 40 trillion floating-point operations per second (40T flops) in Spain, where it will form the heart of a new National Center for Supercomputing. The general purpose computer will be used to conduct research into genetic abnormalities, contagious diseases, climate change and materials science.

If the computer were ready today, it would be the fastest in Europe, according to Spain’s Ministry of Science and Technology. It would also come a close second in peak performance to the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, built by NEC Corp. — but would only consume one-fifth as much electricity, and occupy one-thirtieth the space, the Ministry said.

However, construction of the Spanish 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 Spanish Minister for Science and Technology, Juan Costa Climent, and Amparo Moraleda Martinez, president of IBM Spain, signed the contract to build the computer at a ceremony in Madrid Wednesday morning.

The Ministry of Science and Technology portrayed the contract as a big win for Spain, saying the computer could have gone to other countries including France, Germany, the U.K. or a research lab in the U.S. Indeed, 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, an IBM spokesman said.

The Spanish government will invest



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