Energy Department Supercomputer Poised To Be World's Fastest
- By Joab Jackson
- November 13, 2008
The Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has upgraded its Cray
XT-based Jaguar supercomputer. The upgrade will put the machine in the running
as the world's fastest supercomputer, as measured by twice-annual Top
list of most powerful supercomputers, the next iteration of which will
be announced next
The upgraded computer has been run at 1.64 petaflops, or quadrillion floating-point
operations per second. By comparison, in the last
Top 500 count, compiled in June 2008, it benchmarked a peak rate of 260
teraflops, or one trillion floating point operations per second.
In that list, the Los Alamos National Lab's IBM-based
Roadrunner ranked at the world's most powerful supercomputer, churning out
a peak of 1.37 petaflops.
"Jaguar is one of science's newest and most formidable tools for advancement
in science and engineering," Raymond Orbach, the Energy Department's under secretary
for science, said in a statement. "It will enable researchers to simulate physical
processes on a scale never seen before, and approach convergence for dynamical
processes never thought possible."
The system has already run one job that required a sustained performance of
Most of the work Jaguar will carry out will be on behalf of the Energy Department's
Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE)
program, which grants computer time, on a peer-reviewed basis, to universities,
industries and other government agencies. (A summary of some of the largest
jobs completed by Jaguar and other INCITE computers may be found here.)
The first version of Jaguar went live in 2006, and was capable of 26 teraflops.
Through successive upgrades the system scaled to greater capacities. The most
recent version of Jaguar had 84 Cray XT4 blade cabinets.
This new upgrade adds 200 liquid-cooled XT5 blade cabinets into the configuration.
The current system is made up of over 45,000 2.3 Ghz quad-core Opteron processors
from Advanced Micro Devices. It has 362 terabytes of memory and is supported
by a 10 petabyte file system.
The Oak Ridge lab designed the system to balance computational power with throughput.
The machine provides about 578 terabytes per second of memory bandwidth and
an input/output bandwidth.
Oak Ridge will continue to test the machine through next month, and put it
into production in early 2009.
Joab Jackson is the chief technology editor of Government Computing News (GCN.com).