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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 Aloonatic on 6/10/2008 4:55:03 AM , Rating: 3
I'll be honest. I am not a believer in "Man Mad Global Warming" and "climate change" either, at least not to the levels that pop stars and politicians mite like us to believe.

If it is true, then climate change as a stick to beat the masses with is being over used on this side of the pond (UK) rather shamefully, to the extent that most people now believe that this environmental fear-mongering is just an excuse by politicians to raise taxes and pass legislation in the best interests of the ruling and owning classes.

If you want to buy a 4x4/people carrier at the end of this year you're going to have to pay a hefty "sales-room tax" in the thousands of pounds as well as a great deal of road tax around the £500 all in the name of the environment. This will be for cars that you bought up to 5 years ago as well???

People might believe in this if the money that is being raised in the name of the environment is going towards projects and such to mitigate the effects of "climate change" that are happened now such as flooding (which have nothing to do with greedy house building companies exploiting the house price boom and building on cheap flood planes, oh no) and future projects for lower carbon energy production in the future.

I will start to believe in these causes when:

1) The British parliament is moved from the banks of the Themes and docklands flats start to fall in price for reasons other than over supply.

2) Pop stars and celebrities sell their numerous and huge homes and live in new homes that do not have many many empty rooms being heated and powered for no reason and the stop flying stylists and the little handbag dogs around the world, or curries from Wales to New York just because they can.

3) Evacuation plans for Holland are made public.

4) Measures for curbing CO2 production are not simply fines and charges but actual bans, so that the message is not that it is OK to "destroy the environment" as long as you can afford it.

All this reducing carbon usage talk has nothing to do with the diminishing easily available oil in the world of course. It's just a big coincidence and the reason for the "pain" that people are feeling in their pockets has nothing to do wit grossly miss managed public finances and energy security plans, oh no, it's the environment stupid.

By FITCamaro on 6/10/2008 8:08:14 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. It astounds me how many people lack basic common sense. "Oh well the celebrities and Al Gore are saying its happening so it must be true". That seems to be the mentality of these idgets. Nevermind that they live in giant mansions, fly around the world on a whim, throw giant parties and banquets that consume tons of electricity and what not for stupid crap, and have one hybrid but also several other luxury sport cars that get 5 mpg(or they buy that $100,000+ Lexus hybrid that still gets like 10 mpg).

Man-made global warming is nothing other than a scam. Its an excuse for people to make free money, its an excuse for scientists to get research grants, and its an excuse for a government to tax you to pay for socialist programs.

I should just start selling carbon credits. I'll make up a nice little piece of paper. Make it look pretty, like a stock or something. Buy 1000 carbon credits, get 1000 pieces of paper saying you did (and the rich would buy them oblivious of the fact that a tree was cut down to make those 1000 pieces of paper). Then I'll pay some people in a 3rd world country to plant some trees. Or I'll make up a standard that 1000 carbon credits = 1 tree and plant them here in the US somewhere.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/10/2008 4:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'll be honest. I am not a believer in "Man Mad Global Warming" and "climate change" either, at least not to the levels that pop stars and politicians mite like us to believe.

Exactly. Just join me brother and say it " I am a global warming agnostic ".

After all, isn't it considered rude for a Christian to force their beliefs on agnostics ? Well, global warming is a religion too. And don't let ANYONE take away your right to be a GW Agnostic !

Global Warming Agnostics : We don't know. And neither do you !

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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