Petaflop Super Computer Runs Game Console CPU

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When it comes to Supercomputing, historically, the top dog on the circuit has been IBM's BlueGene/L with its 478+ teraflop (trillions of floating point ops/sec) horsepower, at the ready for solving some of the world's most critical problems and calculations.  Applications, like those being researched at the US Department of Energy, take enormous resources.  As is the case with the DOE's research in simulation of how nuclear materials will age over time, predicting little things like how safe US nuclear weapons stores are.  However, just recently, it has been announced that there is a new Sheriff in Supercomputing town and it's another hombre from the IBM clan.  Or should we say, it's another bird of a feather?  Enter IBM's Roadrunner...


IBM's new bird of prey is built on the company's QS222 processing blades that employ essentially an enhanced versions of the Cell processor that is found in Sony's Playstation 3 game console.  However, the total system is a solution based on a hybrid design of dual-core AMD Opteron processors with Cell processors attached to each and Opterons clustered together with each other.  Server blades are then connected via Infiniband links and a switch fabric.  With 12,960 IBM PowerXCell processors and 6,480 AMD Opteron CPUs, this nimble bipedal occupies about 6,000 square feet of floor space.  And the notoriety doesn't stop there for Big Blue...

"IBM remains the clear leader in the TOP500 list in performance with 48 percent of installed total performance (up from 45), compared to HP with 22.4 percent (down from 23.9). In the system category Dell, SGI and Cray follow with 5.4 percent, 4.4 percent and 3.2 percent respectively."

Though Intel claims 75% of the Top 500 Supercomputers are now Intel-based machines, IBM's Roadrunner is an exception to the rule and is in a class by itself, powered by the competition with a little help from that silly little game console processor from the Playstation 3.


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