The winner and still champion: Roadrunner supercomputer clobbers all

Though we'll know the complete details tomorrow when the final semi-annual Top 500 Supercomputer list is released, only IBM's and Los Alamos' Roadrunner has only gotten faster, but it's no longer alone in crossing the petaflop barrier.

We'll learn the final score tomorrow, but the University of Mannheim which manages the global race for supercomputing supremacy announced over the weekend that Los Alamos National Laboratories' colossus, which beat the long-reigning BlueGene/L last June by an impossible 231%, accelerated its performance to an Rmax score of about 1,105,000 -- just over 1.1 petaflops per second. That's a gain of 7.7% over its June score.

Had Roadrunner not gotten faster, it would've been beaten this season. A 2006-model Cray XT5 built for Oak Ridge National Laboratory called Jaguar posted an Rmax (maximum sustained floating-point processing rate per second) of 1,059,000, about 3.2% better than Roadrunner's June score. Jaguar had been climbing up the list steadily, making its way to seventh place.

Last week, the US Department of Energy which manages Oak Ridge boasted that its score had bested Roadrunner's, and DOE had its hopes set on the #1 slot. In a bittersweet moment, it was not to least not this season.

Nevertheless, the Oak Ridge boy does mark a return to glory for Cray, which used to own the supercomputer championship list before finding itself nearly vanquished by the onslaught of designs based on clusters of everyday server processors such as Opterons and Xeons.

Tomorrow, we'll also learn about a new NASA computer which managed to squeeze past BlueGene/L for the #3 slot. The days of Livermore Labs' championship reign appear to have ended, as BlueGene/L's score remained where it's been for several trials now at 478,200. The venerable architecture has slipped to fourth place.

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