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'Jaguar' Cray hypercomputer beats 1.3 petaflops

World's fastest machine not working on atom bombs

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US government boffins at the Oak Ridge national lab in Tennessee are chuffed as ninepence to announce that they have upgraded their Cray "Jaguar" supercomputer to petaflop performance.

"Jaguar is one of science's newest and most formidable tools for advancement in science and engineering," said Dr Raymond L Orbach, under secretary for science at the US Department of Energy.

"It will enable researchers to simulate physical processes on a scale never seen before, and approach convergence for dynamical processes never thought possible. High end computation will become the critical third pillar for scientific discovery, along with experiment and theory."

The Oak Ridge IT team reckon that the Jaguar - which came in fifth worldwide in the last set of TOP500 supercomputer rankings, at 205 teraflops (205 thousand billion floating point operations per second) - can now crank a full 1.64 petaflops. They have already tested it out at 1.3.

The speed increase, according to Cray, the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge, comes following a four-year project in which 200 Cray XT5 cabinets were added to the existing 84 XT4 ones.

Full specs from the Oak Ridge IT department:

Jaguar uses over 45,000 of the latest quad-core Opteron processors from AMD and features 362 terabytes of memory and a 10-petabyte file system. The machine has 578 terabytes per second of memory bandwidth and unprecedented input/output (I/O) bandwidth of 284 gigabytes per second to tackle the biggest bottleneck in leading-edge systems—moving data into and out of processors. The upgraded Jaguar will undergo rigorous acceptance testing in late December before transitioning to production in early 2009.

Jaguar is now said by its proud owners to be "the most powerful machine in the world dedicated to open scientific research".

The leading machine known to the TOP500 project at the time of the last rankings in June was the "Roadrunner" hypercomputer at Los Alamos, knocking out just over a petaflop at the time and intended for the simulation of processes inside nuclear warheads - the thinking is that very accurate warhead sims mean no need for live tests. ®

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