Los Alamos Machine Tops Fastest Computer List
IBM's hybrid supercomputer, built for the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Los Alamos National Lab, burned its way into the TOP500 Supercomputer record book as the most powerful system in the world. Its sustained performance of 1.02 petaflops (1.02 quadrillion calculations per second) puts the system in a class of its own – more than three times faster than the nearest non-IBM system.
The official results were reported during the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany, where the bi-annual listing of the World's TOP500 Supercomputer Sites was released.
The system gets its power from 12,240 IBM PowerXCell 8i Cell Broadband Engine processors – derived from chips that power today's most popular videogame consoles. 6,562 AMD Opteron Dual-Core processors perform basic compute functions, freeing the IBM PowerXCell 8i chips for the math-intensive calculations that are their specialty.
This "hybrid" architecture, which optimizes the strength of multiple types of processors, is an IBM hallmark. The design is analogous to that of a hybrid car with similar benefits. For example, if the NNSA supercomputer were built with standard x86 chips alone, the system would have been significantly larger and would have required much more power.
The No.2 fastest computer in the world is an IBM Blue Gene/L system at NNSA's Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California, which clocked in at 478 teraflops (478 trillion calculations per second.) Team Blue Gene also held the No.3 spot with a 450 teraflop performance from the Blue Gene/P system housed at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Lab in Chicago.
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