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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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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.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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