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Roadrunner Supercomputer  (Source: IBM)
Roadrunner supercomputer is first to break petaflop barrier

A new supercomputer in the U.S. has broken a barrier that many thought wouldn’t be broken for years to come. A new supercomputer-- dubbed Roadrunner-- has broken the petaflop barrier.

Roadrunner was designed by engineers and scientists at IBM and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ultimately, Roadrunner will be placed into a classified environment where it will be used to simulate what effects aging has on the stockpile of nuclear weapons the U.S. has in its arsenal. The problem it will work on is modeling how aging nuclear weapons behave the first fraction of a second during an explosion. Before beginning its nuclear weapons research, Roadrunner will be used to model the effects of global warming.

The Roadrunner supercomputer costs $133 million and is built using chips from both consumer electronics and more common server processors.

Roadrunner has 12,960 chips that are an improved version of the Cell chip used in the PS3. These Cell processors act as a turbocharger for certain portions of the calculations the Roadrunner processes. The computer also uses a smaller, unspecified number of AMD Opteron processors.

A computer researcher from the University of Tennessee, Jack Dongarra told the New York Times, “This [breaking the petaflop barrier] is equivalent to the four-minute mile of supercomputing.”

Horst Simon from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory said, “Roadrunner tells us about what will happen in the next decade. Technology is coming from the consumer electronics market and the innovation is happening first in terms of cell phones and embedded electronics.”

Technology first appearing in the consumer electronics market and then making its way into supercomputing is a stark contrast to a process that commonly works in the exact opposite manner.

In total, Roadrunner has 116,640 processing cores and the real challenge for programmers is figuring out how to keep all of those processing cores in use simultaneously to get the best performance. Roadrunner requires about 3 megawatts of power, or about enough electricity to run a large shopping center.

To put the processing power in perspective, Thomas P. D’Agostino of the National Nuclear Security Administration said that if all 6 billion people on Earth entered calculations on a calculator for 24 hours a day, seven days per week it would take 46 years to do what Roadrunner can do in one day.

How Roadrunner is cooled is unknown, IBM has recently moved to liquid cooling for its supercomputers, but Roadrunner appears to be air cooled.

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RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By Reclaimer77 on 6/9/2008 9:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
I can't understand how any intelligent individual can honestly say that a portion of global warming isn't due to humanity.

I'm a global warming agnostic. I concede that we are having some effect on the environment. But before I sign up for changes that effect my quality of life, the burden of proof is on YOU to prove its actually a significant threat.

Fact is despite computer models, research, and a fair amount of propoganda ; scientist are no closer now to proving the threat of man-made global warming than they were ten years ago. In fact most recent discoveries directly challenge the theory of made made global warming. So what did these " scientist do " ? Instead of giving it up they changed it to " Global Climate Change " crisis. Same old fear mongering in a shiny new wrapper.

RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By mcturkey on 6/9/08, Rating: -1
RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By Reclaimer77 on 6/9/2008 11:43:32 PM , Rating: 3
Why do you take such a short view?

Its the only one that makes sense right now.

If the scientists are right and we are having a significant effect on the global climate, but you refuse to do anything to prevent significant changes until there is "proof", it may well be too late.

I'm just one guy. I can't change the world. Go peddel your guilt trip to someone who gives a damn.

The consequences of refusing to make changes to our emissions output and resource consumption if in fact global warming is being caused by us are too disastrous to ignore. Better to play it on the safe side and change what needs to be changed.

Baseless fear mongering. Just how far are you willing to go to make changes based on " what ifs " ? Better yet, how far do you make everyone else go and what steps will you take to get there ?

Man Made global warming is a religion, and I'm choosing to remain a Global Warming Agnostic. The burden of proof is on you and those like you to convert me. Good luck.

RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By Polynikes on 6/10/2008 12:51:14 AM , Rating: 2
So, if we follow the "better safe than sorry" idea... We should create a giant space defense system in case invading aliens show up some day, because there's a chance of there being intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. They may not show up for 6,000 years, but hey, at least we'll be safe.

RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By EvilBlitz on 6/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 2:08:43 AM , Rating: 3
Thats rediculous. The difference between not doing something and doing something is a few % of world GDP(oh no we lose a bit of money and we have a cleaner enviroment if they are wrong what a tragedy!)and possibly famine, displacement of masses of people, loss of biodiversity etc if they are right. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

If only it were that simple. You view the world through a child's eyes, which leads me to assume you are one.

The fact that you don't want to err on the side of caution just for the sake of possibly making a few more dollars per person in the world without thinking of anyone who comes after you makes you a greedy and selfish bastard.

Typical emotionally based tactic. Using the future children as human shields for your viewpoint. How is he being a greedy bastard exactly ? Is he in politics ? Is he the one stopping your fantasy from becoming a reality ? No. We don't need your childish personal attacks to discuss this rationally.

How about people like you stop pointing fingers and shut the hell up ? Tell me, what are YOU doing personally to make this planet a better place ? Its easy to curse someone else out than it is to look at your own affairs. I doubt you contribute ANY less to " global warming " then he does you loud mouthed hypocrite. People like you are all talk !

By EvilBlitz on 6/11/2008 1:38:23 AM , Rating: 1
Now I am not convinced that global warming is true, but I do believe we are trashing the crap out of our enviroment and we should TRY to be cleaner. Or maybe once the kudzu has overgrown all your forests and the didymo has choked all your rivers you might do something?

You accuse me of using ad hominem tactics then use NOTHING BUT ad hominem tactics as a rebuttal. Talk about pot calling the kettle black.

I dont see what is wrong doing something for my ch
ildren or future generations. Do you plan to leave anything or are u going to make sure they don't even have enough to cover the funeral?
Ever heard of family trusts? Why do people use them? Apart from tax evasion, normally its to provide for the future of the family. Trusts address financial security, what is wrong with a little more enviromental security?
I would like my kids to swim in the same rivers, and fish the same beaches. I dont want them to be turned away by a river clogged with didymo, or a beach unable to be used because of toxic algae bloom, "dead spots" from excessive fertiliser run off etc
You might be a f**k you Jack im right, but I care about not just my children, but all the worlds future generations, we have to share this planet, deal with it.

What am I doing personally? OK since you asked.
1) I walk to work every day now(good for my wallet and health too)
2) I use only energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances, I also turn them off instead of leaving them on standby. Hence I have a smaller powerbill, it saves me money and isnt hard to do.
3) I recycle as much as my paper and plastic as I possibly can. I also avoid purchasing products with excessive packaging or that use unrecyclable plastics.
4) I don't use plastic shopping bags. Not that hard to buy a couple of cloth ones and reuse them.
5)I try to eat more vegetables, fruits, cereals, and less meat and dairy. Meat and dairy are far more energy and land instensive. This is harder though, esp since meat and dairy taste so good.

And last but not least, I have done all that same stuff at work as I do at home. Also our workplace actually asks for ideas to reduce our enviromental impact. I have even been asked for suggestions for the new custom lab we are building so it is much more enviromentally friendly.

If I was was richer/owned my own house, I would also invest in more insulation and solar water heating and possibly micro generation(dependant on house location).

None of these are really that hard. The only thing easier is not giving a shit and sitting on the fence and doing nothing.

By StevoLincolnite on 6/10/2008 2:19:39 AM , Rating: 2
Look at it this way, the Planet is our Home, yet we don't live in houses, full of rubbish, cow paddies giving off methane, Nuclear waste in the Basement, thus why should our "Larger" Backyard (Backyard being Earth) should be any different?

I don't really know much about the whole Global warming issue, and whether it's happening or not, but seriously, I don't want my future Grand Children running around in a dump, and neither should any other self respecting person.

And doing *Something* About it, rather than nothing is better in the long run in m opinion, there would only be so far where we can drop toxic chemical's into the oceans, and rivers before they become to far polluted that we cant use them to water crops, and drink from.

For Instance, the Great Barrier Reef, is the largest Coral Reef on the planet, yet Sugar Can Farmers have all the run off going out to sea, these high-levels of pollutants, are killing the reef, bleaching the Corals, and just making it completely un-pleasant, I went on a Holiday there when I was younger and thoroughly enjoyed it, I would love to have my Great Grand Children go there and enjoy the same things that I did, but at the rate it's being destroyed that may not happen.

By tastyratz on 6/10/2008 8:50:26 AM , Rating: 3
and your right with other issues. we have a lot better things to do than worry about global warming, were trashing the planet in so many other ways.

Hippies just like to hyperfocus on global warming because the human race is to arrogant and elitist to accept the fact that the difference we make is in insignificant proportions.
Mankind cant accept the idea of it being out of our great and powerful control.

By EvilBlitz on 6/10/2008 2:02:35 AM , Rating: 2
Considering how complex this all is waiting for it to be proved beyond doubt generally will mean waiting till its too late(if they are right).
At many points in time you have to rely on educated guesses.

As for doing nothing that makes no sense at all. The earlier we make change the less drastic that change will have to be than if we leave it till later. Something called planning ahead?

One guy cant change anything? Rubbish, history is littered with examples of one man making a difference. Beside of which a good quote is "a waterfall starts but with 1 drop of water and look what comes from that."
Considering how some of the possible changes you could make actually save you money and or could make you healthier(eg energy efficient lightbulbs or just walking to the shop 500 meters down the road etc) you sounds very stubborn and lazy.

Baseless fear mongering? What would you do, sugarcoat all the possiblities and make it sound like something bad will happen but in the nicest possible way? I guarantee you if you do that you never EVER get a response.

RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By CloudFire on 6/10/08, Rating: 0
RE: It doesn't matter how fast the computer is
By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 1:00:59 AM , Rating: 2
Man Cloud there is so much wrong with your post I don't even know where to start. First off, thanks for putting the " failure of man as a species " sqarely on my shoulders. I mean really, are you for real ?

surely, the millions of tons of green house gases pumped out each year from factories and our cars has no significant threat.

Which is dwarfed in comparison to the greehouse gases caused from water vapor ! Something we simply cannot prevent.

people never believed we could have taken to the air. WRONG!people said we could never go to the moon. WRONG!
people believed we would have never taken the transistor to a microscopic level. WRONG!

Speaking of wrong. Are you actually comparing these scientific and inventive breakthroughs to being skeptical of the " imminent doom " of Global Warming ? Your joking right !?

Oh and you do realize flying planes and going to space pumps billions of tons of " deadly " greenhouse gases into the atmosphere ? Shame on you for not even finding " green " examples !

it's people like you that make me sick. why do we have to prove anything to you?

You don't. Just live your life and I'll live mine. But thats not good enough for you is it ?

there are many millions of people around the world who are helping to make this place a better to live for our future generation.

Like who ? Those who would use Global Warming to push a socialist agenda that will leave future generations with trillions in debt, weak economies, skyrocketing food costs and dwindling economic freedom all under the banner of " saving the planet " ?

And honestly, if you expect to be taken seriously you could actually learn to capitalize your sentences once in a while. But not a single one ?

By AlmostExAMD on 6/10/2008 4:06:52 AM , Rating: 2

"Like who ? Those who would use Global Warming to push a socialist agenda that will leave future generations with trillions in debt, weak economies, skyrocketing food costs and dwindling economic freedom all under the banner of " saving the planet " ?"

Ummm turn on the tv, All those above statements u just made are actually happening right now,LOL.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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