November 2009

In its third run to knock the IBM supercomputer nicknamed “Roadrunner” off the top perch on the TOP500 list of supercomputers, the Cray XT5 supercomputer known as Jaguar finally claimed the top spot on the 34th edition of the closely watched list.

The newest version of the TOP500 list, which is issued twice yearly, will be formally presented on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the SC09 Conference to be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Jaguar, which is located at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and was upgraded earlier this year, posted a 1.75 petaflop/s performance speed running the Linpack benchmark. Jaguar roared ahead with new processors bringing the theoretical peak capability to 2.3 petaflop/s and nearly a quarter of a million cores. One petaflop/s refers to one quadrillion calculations per second.

When the Roadrunner system at Los Alamos first appeared at the top of the June 2008 TOP500 list, it was the world’s first petaflop/s supercomputer. This time around, Roadrunner recorded a performance of 1.04 petaflops, dropping from 1.105 petaflop/s in June 2009 due to a repartitioning of the system. In both November 2008 and June 2009, Jaguar came close but couldn’t dislodge Roadrunner from the top slot.

Kraken, another upgraded Cray XT5 system at the National Institute for Computational Sciences/University of Tennessee, claimed the No. 3 position with a performance of 832 teraflop/s (trillions of calculations per second).

At No. 4 is the most powerful system outside the U.S. -- an IBM BlueGene/P supercomputer located at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ) in Germany. It achieved 825.5 teraflop/s on the Linpack benchmark and was No. 3 in June 2009.

Rounding out the top 5 positions is the new Tianhe-1 (meaning River in Sky) system installed at the National Super Computer Center in Tianjin, China and to be used to address research problems in petroleum exploration and the simulation of large aircraft designs. The highest ranked Chinese system ever, Tianhe-1 is a hybrid design with Intel Xeon processors and AMD GPUs used as accelerators. Each node consists of two AMD GPUs attached to two Intel Xeon processors.