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Monday, 09 June 2008 07:37

Supercomputer breaks Petaflop speed barrier

Written by David Stellmack

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Goes over 1.026 quadrillion calculations/second

The new supercomputer, known as Roadrunner, which was built by scientists and engineers at IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, has exceeded the Petaflop (1,000 trillion calculations per second) barrier by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.  Named the Roadrunner after the New Mexico State Bird, it was built using components that were originally designed for Sony’s PlayStation video game machines, at a cost of $133 million.

As a comparison of its speed to everyday life, the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration postured that if all six billion people on earth had hand calculators and performed calculations on them for seven days per week, 24 hours per day, it would take 46 years for all of these people to collectively accomplish what the Roadrunner can do in one day.

The Roadrunner will initially be used to explore scientific issues such as global climate change.  Its incredible speed will help scientists build and test global climate models with higher accuracy.  It will later be used for military defense applications by tracking the physical characteristics of nuclear weapons.

The Roadrunner broke the Petaflop barrier sooner than had been anticipated, and it has put the U.S. back in the supercomputer industry as the world’s leader.  This industry has improved performance increases a thousandfold in processing power in only eleven years.  The next thousandfold goal is the Exaflop.

Last modified on Monday, 09 June 2008 13:00

David Stellmack

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