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Photos: The world's fastest supercomputers revealed

Bigger, faster, stronger
By Nick Heath, Contributor on
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1 of 5 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Bigger, faster, stronger

The colossi of computing took their places on the supercomputing podium today.

Able to slice through quadrillion tasks every second, the searing performance of US supercomputers once again monopolised a list of the world's processing powerhouses.

The Roadrunner supercomputer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory took the top spot on the biannual TOP500 supercomputer list - a position it's held since June 2008. Roadrunner is able to carry out more than a quadrillion operations per second at 1.105 petaflops.

Not only is it the most powerful supercomputer but Roadrunner, seen here, is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the TOP500.

Roadrunner is based on the IBM QS22 blades, which are built with advanced versions of the processor used in the Sony PlayStation 3.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory

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2 of 5 Nick Heath/ZDNET

The only other computer to break the petaflop barrier was the Cray XT5 supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, known as Jaguar.

The Cray XT5 system, seen here, is made up of 37,544 quadcore AMD Opteron processors with 300TB of memory.

The machine will be used for everything from predicting the dynamics of climate change to understanding the complex interactions of proteins inside the body.

Both of the top two systems are housed at national laboratories operated by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Photo credit: National Center for Computational Sciences

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3 of 5 Nick Heath/ZDNET

At number three on the supercomputer list is the Nasa Ames Research Centre Pleiades supercomputer.

Weighing in at 487 teraflops the SGI Altix ICE system, seen here, is used to simulate and model future space missions.

The system relies on 47,104 quadcore processors and is named after an open star cluster.

Photo credit: Nasa Ames Research Center/Marco Librero

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4 of 5 Nick Heath/ZDNET

In fourth place is the IBM Blue Gene/L system installed at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US.

The system hit 478.2 teraflops per second and is used to check the safety, security and reliability of the stockpile of US nuclear weapons without the need to carry out underground testing.

The machine, seen here, was recently scaled up to have 106,496 processor nodes from 65,536.

Photo credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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5 of 5 Nick Heath/ZDNET

Finally at five is an IBM Blue Gene/P system, seen here, at Argonne National in the US.

Argonne National Laboratory is one of the US Department of Energy's oldest and largest science and engineering research national laboratories.

The system can run at 450.3 teraflops and helps the lab in its mission to develop advanced energy technologies and combat environmental problems.

Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory

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