Skip to main content
Search IBM Research
     Home  |  Products & services  |  Support & downloads  |  My account
 Select a country
 IBM Research Home
Deep Blue
The Match
The Players
 ·Gary Kasparov
 ·Deep Blue
 ·The Deep Blue Team
 ·The Comparison
The Technology
The Community

Related Links
 Press room
 Chess conference
 Site guide
 Search Research

Deep Blue game 6: May 11 @ 3:00PM EDT | 19:00PM GMT        kasparov 2.5 deep blue 3.5
Deep Blue

In 1985, a Carnegie Mellon doctoral student named Feng-hsiung Hsu began to develop a chess-playing computer called "Chiptest." Twelve years and hundreds of checkmates later, Chiptest has evolved into what is now widely considered to be the greatest chess-playing computer ever constructed -- Deep Blue. And this year, with improved capacity and a wealth of new chess knowledge, Deep Blue comes to the chessboard with more speed and power than ever before.

The origins of Deep Blue
The IBM Deep Blue project began when Hsu and Murray Campbell (Hsu's classmate at Carnegie Mellon) joined IBM Research in 1989. It started as an effort to explore how to use parallel processing to solve complex computing problems. The Deep Blue team at IBM -- Hsu, Campbell, Joe Hoane, Jerry Brody and C.J. Tan -- saw this complex problem as a classical research dilemma of how to develop a chess-playing computer to test the best chess players in the world.

Over the past few years, the team designed a chess-specific processor chip that is capable of examining and evaluating two to three thousand positions per second. The team joined this special purpose hardware with IBM's PowerParallel SP computer to increase its searching capabilities several hundred-fold.

The current version
The latest iteration of the Deep Blue computer is a 32-node IBM RS/6000 SP high-performance computer, which utilizes the new Power Two Super Chip processors (P2SC). Each node of the SP employs a single microchannel card containing 8 dedicated VLSI chess processors, for a total of 256 processors working in tandem. Deep Blue's programming code is written in C and runs under the AIX operating system. The net result is a scalable, highly parallel system capable of calculating 100-200 billions moves within three minutes, which is the time allotted to each player's move in classical chess.

Improvements in this year's model
The most prominent improvement in Deep Blue is its speed. The computer is now running on a faster system, the latest version of the RS/6000 SP, which employs the Power Two Super Chip (P2SC) processors. "That will give us a factor of two speed-up over the system that played last year," says Deep Blue developer Murray Campbell. "And in chess programs, speed is very important. The faster you are, the stronger you play."

This means that Deep Blue will be able to examine and evaluate twice as many chess positions per second than last year. Exactly how many? According to the development team, Deep Blue will be able to explore 200,000,000 positions per second. Incidentally, Garry Kasparov can examine approximately three positions per second.

Deep Blue's "chess knowledge" has been significantly enhanced over the past 12 months through the efforts of team consultant and international grandmaster Joel Benjamin. Garry Kasparov is certainly a great chess player -- perhaps the greatest in history -- but the new and improved Deep Blue offers a challenge that even the world champion has yet to experience.

The increase in computing power will also allow Deep Blue to adapt to new strategies as the game progresses. Those following last year's match will remember that Kasparov eventually defeated Deep Blue by switching strategies mid-game. The development team feels that this tactic will not be as effective this time around.

Deep Blue's chess knowledge has also increased over the past 12 months. "We spent a lot of time, several months, working with a grandmaster, Joel Benjamin," states Campbell. "There are sometimes things that a grandmaster knows that are sometimes difficult to put into a computer program. We are working hard to get to know as much about chess as possible."

Related Information

      Deep Blue FAQ:The answers to the questions about this powerful chess-playing computer

      The making of Deep Blue:A timeline of Deep Blue's development

      How Deep Blue works:Under the hood of this powerful parallel processor

      All this power just for chess?:How Deep Blue technology is affecting the way we live

      meet the players:"The last time I was surprised by the strength of the machine. This time I know what to expect... I mustn't take the match too lightly." - Garry Kasparov

      join the conversation:Experts on chess and technology discuss Deep Blue.

      Chess Pieces
no. 47

Judit Polgar of Hungary was the youngest person to attain international grandmaster status, at 15 years and 150 days old, on December 20, 1991. Bobby Fischer of the US was 15 years, 6 months, and 1 day old when he became the youngest man to become an international grandmaster
  About IBM  |  Privacy  |  Legal  |  Contact