Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling

So far behind an iPad has more power (joking)


So you think the desktop under your desk got obsolete quickly, well take a look at this:


Five years ago, an IBM-built supercomputer designed to model the decay of the US nuclear weapons arsenal was clocked at speeds no computer in the history of Earth had ever reached. At more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second (that’s a million billion, or a “petaflop”), the aptly named Roadrunner was so far ahead of the competition that it earned the #1 slot on the Top 500 supercomputer list in June 2008, November 2008, and one last time in June 2009.

Today, that computer has been declared obsolete and it’s being taken offline. Based at the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Roadrunner will be studied for a while and then ultimately dismantled. While the computer is still one of the 22 fastest in the world, it isn’t energy-efficient enough to make the power bill worth it.

“During its five operational years, Roadrunner, part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program to provide key computer simulations for the Stockpile Stewardship Program, was a workhorse system providing computing power for stewardship of the US nuclear deterrent, and in its early shakedown phase, a wide variety of unclassified science,” Los Alamos lab said in an announcement Friday.

Costing more than $120 million, Roadrunner’s 296 server racks covering 6,000 square feet were connected with InfiniBand and contained 122,400 processor cores. The hybrid architecture used IBMPowerXCell 8i CPUs (an enhanced version of the Sony PlayStation 3 processor) and AMD Opteron dual-core processors. The AMD processors handled basic tasks, with the Cell CPUs “taking on the most computationally intense parts of a calculation—thus acting as a computational accelerator,” Los Alamos wrote.

And from the comments:
For everyone that was calculating the costs of running the computer, a quick googling found the commercial electricity rate for Los Alamos, NM is only 6.13cents/kW. Using that it would “only” cost $1.2 million to power the system 24/7 for a year. Probably have to triple that in reality to include lighting, A/C, and whatnots.Looking at the full TOP500 list, Roadrunner is achieving 444Mflops/W, while #1 Titan is at 2142 Mflops/W. It is 17x faster than what they current have, but draws 8.2MW compared to their 2.3MW. I think it’s just that the guys at Los Alamos want to be back on top again, and have latched onto this being the best way to ask for another few hundred million to build a new shiny.
LANL also has #18, 64, 103, 109, 205, and 431. LLNL (Lawrence Livermore Nat’l Labs) has #2, 29, 54, 63, 65, 150, 188, 280, 296, 302, 399, & 430. Argonne has #4, 47, 139, 140, 439. Oak Ridge stole #1 from Argonne, along with #40, 85. Obviously this isn’t including various other research labs, and the ones that are just listed as Defence or other branches of the armed services.


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This entry was posted on April 1, 2013 by in comment, ilike and tagged , , , , .
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