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The Petaflop Threshold

Things are finally on the petascale thanks to IBM's Cell architecture.


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LOS ALAMOS (Rixstep) -- Delivery is soon expected on the first of a new generation of supercomputers: the IBM Roadrunner, the most powerful computer in the world.

It's a major milestone in performance computing: the petaflop capability. It has enormous implications for climate change, alternative energy, and financial services. Installed at Los Alamos the Roadrunner will also protect US national security working at a petaflop in sustained performance.

The petaflop threshold is twice as fast as any other IBM superbox and three times as fast as any other competitor's. It's a hybrid based on the PowerPC Cell idea but also uses off the shelf AMD x86s.

Cell

The efficiency of the Cell is such that Roadrunner can be a lot smaller than other computers attempting to achieve the same performance. The resulting box promises to usher in a new era in 'cloud computing'.

Half of All Supers

IBM already dominate the top 500 rankings with nearly 250 boxes on the list. IBM lead the world in building the most powerful computers with four Blue Gene boxes in the top 10 and a total of 38 in the top 100.

Several other petaflop class boxes are slated for delivery soon even as IBM expand their Blue Gene application support with an open source programme.

Now if only they could make a laptop processor fast enough to please Steve Jobs and beat Apple's Intels.

See Also
IBM: The Roadrunner Project
IBM & Department of Energy Unveil Petaflop Supercomputer
YouTube: Roadrunner Supercomputer Breaks the Petaflop Barrier

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