Cray XT Jaguar takes supercomputing lead

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Cray XT Jaguar takes supercomputing lead

The Cray XT Jaguar at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee will probably lead the top 500 supercomputers list that comes out next week.

The DoE laboratory recently finished upgrading the Cray XT Jaguar to about two and a half times its original size, giving it 1.64 petaflops of peak computing power.

That's substantially more number munching muscle than the 1.026 petaflops mark posted by IBM's Roadrunner at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to head up the Top 500 list last June.

While the IBM Roadrunner at Los Alamos is used for classified national security research, including nuclear weapons design and computational 'testing', the DoE started upgrading the Cray XT Jaguar installation at Oak Ridge four years ago to deliver more supercomputer power for unclassified research.

The department claims its upgrade of the supercomputer was completed on time within budget and surpassed its original objectives.

The system has already completed a lengthy superconductivity calculation project that required sustained performance of more than 1.3 petaflops.

The faster Cray XT Jaguar will enable scientists to perform physics simulations on a scale "never seen before", according to Raymond L Orbach, the DoE undersecretary for science. "High-end computation will become the critical third pillar for scientific discovery, along with experiment and theory," Orbach said in a DoE statement.

Although joined at the hip with the nuclear power industry for much of its existence, the US Department of Energy is stretching to renew its relevance to national energy policies, since no new nuclear power plants have been built anywhere in the US for more than 20 years.

Michael Strayer, DOE associate director for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, said "The new petaflops machine will make it possible to address some of the most challenging scientific problems in areas such as climate modeling, renewable energy, materials science, fusion, and combustion."

The Linux-based Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer's original 84 cabinets were supplemented with 200 additional cabinets during the upgrade. The upgraded system has more than 45,000 AMD Opteron quad-core processors, 362TB of memory and a 10 petabyte file system. The processors have 578TB per second of memory bandwidth overall and the system has total I/O bandwidth of 284GB per second.

The system will undergo more testing in late December before starting production work early in 2009.
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