According to the recently released list of the world’s Top500 supercomputers, the title of world’s fastest supercomputer goes to IBM’s Roadrunner, located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Los Alamos system, nicknamed Roadrunner, has hung onto its title as the world’s fastest supercomputer, a position that it first claimed back in June 2008. Since June, the supercomputer had received only slight upgrades, yet it was still able to edge out its competition this November with a speed of 1.105 petaflops/s under the Linpack benchmark application. Second place in the Top500 list went to Jaguar, the Cray XT5 supercomputer located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which achieved a speed of 1.059 petaflop/s. Both systems are operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, with seven of the top ten fastest supercomputers being located at U.S. Department of Energy facilities.
Third place in the Top500 list went to a system called Pleiades, a SGI Altix ICE system installed at NASA Ames in California, which reached a speed of 487 teraflop/s. The IBM BlueGene/L system, installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scored 478.2 teraflop/s for fourth place. Supercomputers today are roughly 1,000 times more powerful than they were ten years ago, with Roadrunner being the first system ever to break the petaflop/s barrier. To put petaflop speeds into perspective, a single petaflop/s is roughly the equivalent of combining together the computing power of 100,000 of the fastest notebooks on earth.
The Roadrunner was also the world’s first supercomputer to use a hybrid design, currently combining 12,960 IBM PowerXCell 8i CPUs and 6,912 AMD Opteron dual-core processors. The operating systems used by Roadrunner are said to be Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora, with the entire system draining about 2.35-megawatt of power. Roadrunner was primarily designed to ensure the safety and reliability of nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile by simulating how nuclear materials age. Other uses of Roadrunner include research into astronomy, energy, human genome science and climate change