Roadrunner tops fastest computer's race

Only the name has changed. IBM retained the title of world's fastest computer makers. Instead of the perennial winner Blue Gene/L, this time it is Roadrunner, housed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. This supercomputer from IBM attains the speed of petaflops, first ever attained by any computer.

The ranking was announced this Wednesday during the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany, a biannual event that ranks the 500 most powerful computers around the world. According to the TOP500 ranking, it achieved a peak performance of 1.026 petaFLOPS (floating point operations per second) to take the top spot. One petaflop is equal to a quadrillion, or one thousand trillion, calculations per second. The No. 2 BlueGene/L, also made by IBM Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, attained the speed of 478.2 teraflops.

IBM's Roadrunner is powered by 12,240 IBM PowerXCell 8i Cell chips similar to those found in the gaming console. The basic computing functions are handled by 6,562 AMD Opteron dual-core processors, leaving the Cell chips available to deal with the heavy lifting necessary for the math-intensive calculations in which the processors specialize. It takes the space of 278 refrigerator-size server racks.

IBM, continuing its dominance in supercomputing, makes 210 of the 500 supercomputers. 5 out of the top 10 supercomputers comes from IBM. Just behind them is HP (Hewlett-Packard ), making 183 of the fastest computers.

The Top 10 Fastest Supercomputers

Take a look

  • The fastest supercomputer in the world is also one of the most energy efficient.

  • The No. 1, 2, 3, and 5 are located in U.S. Department of Energy labs.

  • U.S. continues to be the hub of supercomputers in the world having more than half of the systems (257) located in the U.S.

  • U.S. is followed by U.K. with 53, Germany with 46, France with 34, Japan with 22, and China with 12. More than half of the systems used Quad-core processors.

  • Majority of the systems (208 of the 500) contain between 2,049 and 4,096 processors. It is more than double the systems that used that amount just six months ago.

  • Intel dominates the high-end processor market with 75 percent of all systems on the list and 90 percent of the quad-core based systems that were ranked.

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