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World’s First Petaflops System Tops the TOP500 List

By DE Editors

Roadrunner, a system based on the IBM (Armonk, NY) QS22 blades that are built with advanced versions of the processor in the Sony PlayStation 3, reached a performance peak of 1.026 petaflops (1.026 quadrillion floating point operations per second) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Los Alamos National Laboratory. By doing so, it has become the first supercomputer ever to reach this milestone and now leads the latest edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. At the same time, Roadrunner is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the TOP500.


Roadrunner displaces the IBM BlueGene/L system at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Blue Gene/L, with a performance of 478.2 teraflops (Tflops) is now ranked second after holding the top position since November 2004. The following are the remaining top 10 supercomputers operating worldwide:


3) The IBM BlueGene/P (450.3 Tflops) at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory

4) The new Sun Microsystems (Santa Clara, CA) SunBlade x6420 Ranger system (326 Tflops) at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas in Austin

5) The upgraded Cray (Seattle, WA) XT4 Jaguar (205 Tflops) at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory

6) The IBM BlueGene/P system (180 Tflops) at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Juelich, Germany

7) The new SGI (Mountain View, CA) Altix ICE 8200 system (133.2 Tflops) at the New Mexico Computing Applications Center in Rio Rancho, NM

8) A Hewlett-Packard (HP; Palo Alto, CA) Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system integrated with Computational Research Laboratories’ own innovative routing technology (132.8 Tflops) in Pune, India

9) A new IBM BlueGene/P system (112.5 Tflops) installed at the Institut du Developpement et des Ressources en Informatique Scientifique (IDRIS) in Orsay, France

10) An SGI Altix ICE 8200 system (106.1 Tflops) at Total Exploration Production in Pau, France.


Among all systems, Intel powers 75 percent of the TOP500 supercomputers, up from 70.8 percent. Quad-core processor based systems have taken over the TOP500 with 283 systems using them. Two hundred three systems are using dual-core processors, only 11 systems still use single-core processors, and three systems use IBM’s advanced Sony PlayStation 3 processor with 9 cores. IBM built 210 systems (42%), HP built 183 systems (36%). Dell (Austin, TX; http://www.dell.com), SGI, and Cray follow with 5.4%, 4.4%, and 3.2% respectively.

According to the Top500 organization, the last system on the list would have been listed at position 200 in the previous TOP500 just six months ago. The current list represents the largest turnover rate in the 16-year history of the TOP500 project.

For the first time, the TOP500 list provides energy efficiency calculations: Most of the energy-efficient supercomputers are based on the IBM QS22 Cell processor blades (up to 488 megaflops/Watt (Mflops/Watt) or IBM BlueGene/P systems (up to 376 Mflops/Watt). Intel (Santa Clara, CA) Harpertown quad-core blades are making inroads with IBM BladeCenter HS21with low-power processors (up to 265 Mflops/Watt), SGI Altix ICE 8200EX with Xeon quad-core nodes (up to 240 Mflops/Watt), and HP Cluster Platform 3000 BL2x220 with double density blades (up to 227 Mflops/Watt).


Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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