Supercomputer Face-Off: Roadrunner Barely Beats Jaguar


The 1.105 petaflop/s IBM Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory retained its top dog title that it first achieved in June, after it underwent upgrades.

The speed demon was built for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. IBM said that in the past 10 years, supercomputer power has increased about 1,000 times.

The Cray XT5 Jaguarsupercomputer at the Tennessee-based Oak Ridge National Laboratory was only the second one to break the petaflop/s barrier, and posted a top performance of 1.059 petaflop/s in running the Linpack benchmark application. One petaflop/s represents one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

The rival systems are both housed in the national laboratories operated by the DOE. In fact, seven of the top 10 systems on the new TOP500 list are located at DOE facilities, the organization said. Nine of the top 10 supercomputers are located in the U.S. The most powerful system outside the U.S. is the Chinese-built Dawning 5000A at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center. It is the largest system that can be operated with Windows HPC 2008 operating system.

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The No. 3 system, Pleiades, is a new SGI Altix ICE system located at NASA Ames in Moffett Field, Calif., and is narrowly grabbing third place with 487 teraflop/s.

In fourth place is the IBM BlueGene/L system, installed at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with a Linpack performance of 478.2 Tflop/s.

Scoring the No. 5 spot is a newer version of the same type of IBM BlueGene/P system installed at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory. It achieved 450.3 Tflop/s.

The No. 6 system is at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas and recently received faster processors.

Nicknamed Ranger, it is built by Sun using SunBlade x6420 servers and achieved 433.2 TFlop/s. Coming in at No. 7 is Franklin, the second new Cray XT5 system. It is installed at DOE's NERSC Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and achieved 266.3 Tflop/s.

The No. 8 system is a Cray XT4 system installed at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It achieved a Linpack performance of 205 Tflop/s.

In ninth place is the enlarged Sandia/Cray Red Storm system located at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., which achieved 204.2 Teraflop/s.