Granted, Thinking Machines built a very striking machine of very limited utility.

But leave it to the sophisticated Spanish in the cultural powerhouse of Barcelona to create a beautiful supercomputer – in a Modernist, Glass House esthetic – and meld it with a old chapel.

And of course you’d want to use the roof of the computer room:

Learn more about the Barcelona Supercomputer Center here.

Not just a pretty face
According to the latest Top 500 list, the BSC machine is also the most powerful supercomputer outside the US, ranked 9th worldwide.

The IBM-built machine, named Mare Nostrum (Latin for “Our Sea”):

. . . consists of 2560 JS21 blade computing nodes[2], each with 2 dual-core IBM 64-bit PowerPC 970MP processors running at 2.3 GHz for 10240 CPUs in total.

The computing nodes of MareNostrum communicate primarily through a high bandwidth, low latency Myrinet network consisting of integrated Myrinet adapters on each server blade and switched fabric of 12 Myrinet switches. In addition, there is a more traditional local area network consisting of Gigabit Ethernet adapters and five Gigabit Ethernet switches (one Force10 E600 and four Cisco 3550s). The MareNostrum supercomputer has 20 TB of RAM and 280 TB of external disk storage for more persistent storage.

MareNostrum features BladeCenter JS21 blade servers and uses the Linux operating system. It is capable of 62.63 teraflops and a peak performance of 94.21 teraflops according to the LINPACK benchmark. It occupies only 120 m² (less than half a basketball court) and weighs 40,000 kg.

The StorageMojo take
Fast and beautiful. What’s not to like?

All vendors should get serious about the industrial design of their products. What Apple has done with Macs, iPods and now iPhones is nothing magic. It is simple attention to detail by very smart designers. Steve Jobs isn’t a designer. He’s just a guy who appreciates good design and is obsessive-compulsive about making sure he gets it.

He’s also not afraid to wait until the technology gets to where it needs to be to enable the right design. There’s nothing in the iPhone that wouldn’t have been slower, heavier and more costly 18 months ago. The product wouldn’t have had the “wow” factor – you know, what Vista has – so it wasn’t a product.

And let the Barcelona Supercomputer Center be an inspiration to us all.

Comments welcome, as always. Do you have a favorite beautiful computer?