Jaquar chases Roadrunner for fastest supercomputer

Jaquar chases Roadrunner for fastest supercomputer

Summary: Two systems, including one based on x86 chips, have become the first ever to break the petaflop/s barrier in the latest Top500 supercomputer list.

Cray's XT5 Jaguar supercomputer has narrowly missed displacing IBM's Roadrunner system as the world's fastest supercomputer, according to the results of the bi-annual 'Top500' supercomputing list announced on Friday.

Roadrunner (left), which is located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was enhanced earlier this year and in June became the first to break the petaflop barrier, reaching 1.105 petaflops, according to Top500.

Jaguar, which operates at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, became only the second-ever to pass the petaflop mark last week, as the result of a $100m (£70m) upgrade. However, Top500 officials placed Jaguar's performance at 1.059 petaflops, narrowly trailing that of Roadrunner.

One petaflop represents one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

AMD pointed out that Jaguar is based on its quad-core Opteron processors, making Jaguar the first entirely x86-based system to break the petaflop barrier. Roadrunner is based on IBM QS22 blades, which are powered by the PowerXCell 8i, an advanced version of the chip found in the Sony PlayStation 3.

Oak Ridge and Los Alamos are both operated by the US Department of Energy, which runs seven of the top 10 systems on the list. Nine of the top 10 systems are located in the US. The most powerful system outside the US is China's Dawning 5000A, which is also the largest system based on Windows HPC 2008.

IBM and AMD may lead the list, but about three-quarters (75.8 percent) of the other systems on the list are based on Intel chips, slightly up from 75 percent on the last list, issued in May.

IBM Power and AMD Opteron chips nearly tied for the second most-used processors, with 60 and 59 systems each respectively, or 12 percent and 11.8 percent. Quad-core chips have taken over the Top500 list rapidly, and are now to be found in 336 systems. Seven of the list's systems are using nine-core PowerXCell chips.

HP built the highest number of systems, at 209, followed by IBM with 188.

The entry-level of the list increased to 12.64 teraflops from 9.0 teraflops in May, and the 500th system on the current list would have placed at 267 on May's list, the Top500 organization said.

The US accounts for the majority of the Top500-listed supercomputing systems, with 291 systems, up from 257. Europe follows with 151 systems, followed by Asia with 47 systems. Within Europe the UK leads, accounting for 45 systems on the list, followed by Germany with 24 systems. Within Asia, Japan leads with 18 systems, followed by China with 16 and India with eight.

The Top500 list is issued twice a year and is compiled by the University of Mannheim, the NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Networking

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  • Ecologically appropriate

    While I doubt roadrunners coexist with jaguars in nature, at least it could be a better race than roadrunner vs. coyote, minus the explosives.
    • LOL! <nt>

  • If these systems were to run Vista ....

    they would be obsolete before completing the boot up sequence.
    • Brooklyn Bridge Called

      Brooklyn Bridge Called they want there troll back ...
    • The #10 is running Windows HPC 2008

      Server 2008 sp1 has Vista sp1 kernel. And it is achieving a higher efficiency of 77% Rmax/Rpeak that either the #1 76% or Jaguar running CNL (compute node linux) at 75%. figures based on reported result from top500.org

      Windows is also running on a dual-boot system in the top 50. ABE. It can be booted as either Linux or Windows and it performed 7% faster than linux on the same hardware. Go to the NSCA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications)
    • Correction

      Don't you mean 'If these systems *could* run Vista'?
  • What are they used for

    Wow, all these supercomputers in the world, what are they actually doing? They arn't servers are they?
    Road Runner, apparently..."its primary task will be to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S's nuclear weapons stockpile"
    Rightttt it's just one bad thing after another. The world's fastest (and most energy consuming) computer was built to monitor nuclear weapons
    • Uses

      I am just glad they haven't called it Skynet.
      I really hope there is still a big red button somewhere underground that still has to be pressed by a person!
    • Nuclear simulations not monitoring

      And the #2 jaguar uses about 3 times as much power as #1

      The idea is so that they don't actually have to detonate these nuclear devices. They simply run simulations to verify that new designs actually work.

      So basically nuclear testing is all done now through simulations.
  • RE: Jaquar chases Roadrunner for fastest supercomputer

    The government should have no excuses. It should be able to quickly calculate how fast and to what magnitude the US economy will tank in 2009.
    • Good point, but...

      ...what makes you think they haven't? Just cuz it hasn't been broadcast all over the lame scream media? :D LOL! ;)
  • What OS is powering these beasts?


    family # %
    Linux 439 87.80 %
    Windows 5 1.00 %
    Unix 23 4.60 %
    BSD Based 1 0.20 %
    Mixed 31 6.20 %
    Mac OS 1 0.20 %
    Totals 500 100 %

    Must have slipped ZDNet's mind;-)
    Richard Flude
    • Windows is running the #10 up from #23

      #10 China's Dawning 5000A is running Microsoft's new HPC 2008. It has an efficiency of 77% vs 75% for the Jaguar running CNL (compute node linux). Efficiency is RMax / RPeak.

      And on one in the top 50 (ABE) it is a dual boot with Linux. The interesting thing is that Windows runs about 7% faster than linux on the same hardware. Installation for that cluster took 4 hours.

      There is another dual boot further down the list and on that one Windows scored 14% higher efficiency than Linux on the same hardware.

      I would love to see if Jaguar was running Windows HPC if it would take the #1 spot
  • RE: Jaquar chases Roadrunner for fastest supercomputer

    Isn't it amazing that we lead the world in petaflops but can't seem to solve our socio-economic woes. Perhaps we need a new definition of "flops".