updated 05:30 pm EDT, Mon June 9, 2008
IBM today announced it will commission a $100 million hybrid supercomputer, the world's fastest, codenamed Roadrunner, to the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. The supercomputer is claimed to be able to perform 1,000 trillion operations per second, or one petaflop. According to IBM, the array has the same computing power as 100,000 of today's fastest laptop computers combined. The hybrid computer combines AMD's x86 processors with Cell Broadband Engine chips originally developed for video game platforms, such as the ones used in Sony's PlayStation3.
Roadrunner, named for New Mexico's state bird, will be housed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the state, where its primary role will be to perform virtual nuclear weapons testing. Roadrunner will also perform research in the astronomy, energy, human genome and climate change fields. According to IBM, Roadrunner is twice as fast as the company's current Blue Gene system in use at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and almost three times faster than the fastest competitors. The supercomputer operates on Linux.
Roadrunner spans 6,000 square feet, housed in 288 IBM BladeCenter racks. It combines nearly 7,000 AMD Opteron chips along with almost 13,000 Cell engines and 80TB of RAM memory. Its 10,000 connections are made via more than 57 miles of fiber optic cable. Weighing 500,000 lbs, Roadrunner will be transported by 21 tractor trailer trucks to New Mexico later on this summer.