Los Alamos, New Mexico is now home to the aptly-named Roadrunner supercomputer. [image from linked NYT article]
Built by IBM computer scientists using hundreds of Cell microprocessors – hardware originally developed for games consoles, and which power the Playstation 3 – Roadrunner will be used to run simulations of exploding nuclear warheads, although the US military are giving it a run at more pleasant tasks like climate simulation before it settles down to its grim career. [via SlashDot]
Roadrunner clocks in at 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second – that’s nearly twice the speed of IBM’s own Blue Gene/L supercomputer, the previous champion. To put that into perspective, the NYT article equates a petaflop as follows:
“… if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day.”
So, yeah – pretty fast.
The world’s fastest super computer is currently Blue Gene/L (pictured left) which is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It is capable of performing 478.2 trillion operations, or 478.2 teraflops, a second. However, IBM (which built Blue Gene/L) has announced plans to build a petaflop (quadrillion operations per second) computer, which essentially will be twice as powerful as Blue Gene/L.
[The] computer nicknamed “Roadrunner” that will combine Cell processors, a family of chips found inside the PlayStation 3, and processors from Advanced Micro Devices.
Roadrunner, which will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in summer 2008, will be capable of performing more than a quadrillion operations, or a petaflop, when it’s fully operational. IBM helped design and build the Cell chip and has been looking for ways to expand its commercial potential.
(Image credit: Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)