DOE Lab Claims Cray's Jaguar Supercomputer Surpasses IBM's Roadrunner

In a statement posted on the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory Web site, researchers reported that the newly revamped Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer now offers a performance of more than 1 quadrillion calculations per second, surpassing the record set by IBM's Roadrunner system. According to the Oak Ridge lab report, the Cray Jaguar supercomputer offers a maximum performance of 1.64 petaflops, compared with the 1.026 petaflops of performance offered by IBM's Roadrunner. The new Top 500 is scheduled for release during the week of Nov. 17.

Cray and researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory claim that they now own the world's fastest supercomputer thanks to an upgraded high-performance computer system that may surpass the record-breaking mark IBM set with its Roadrunner system earlier this year.

In a statement posted on the Oak Ridge laboratory's Web site Nov. 10, the DOE claims that the Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer now offers a maximum performance of 1.64 petaflops, or more than one quadrillion calculations per second. When IBM installed its new Roadrunner system earlier this year, Big Blue's latest supercomputer offered a maximum performance of 1.026 petaflops.

While Cray and Oak Ridge lab researchers can claim that the revamped XT Jaguar system is now the fastest supercomputer, the official designation will have to wait until the new Top 500 supercomputer list is published during the 2008 Supercomputing Conference in Austin, Texas, which starts the week of Nov. 17.

The list is published twice a year by the University of Mannheim in Germany, the University of Tennessee and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory. The group uses the Linpack Benchmark as the standard to measure the performance of each supercomputer.

When IBM installed the Roadrunner system at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico earlier this year, the company made history with the first system that offered more than a petaflop of performance. Although a record, it seemed likely that other systems would eventually catch up to the petaflop mark.

IBM had maintained the No. 1 ranking on the Top 500 list for several years with its BlueGene/L system at the DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the company surpassed its own mark this year with Roadrunner.

IBM's Roadrunner design is notable for its use of the company's Cell processor, which IBM originally designed for the Sony PlayStation, which works as accelerators along with industry-standard Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors.

Cray originally contracted with the DOE's Oak Ridge lab in 2004 to build a supercomputer for the researchers and scientists who work at the Tennessee facility.

Cray and researchers at Oak Ridge have been slowly building up the compute capacity of the Jaguar system during the last four years. When the Top 500 supercomputer list was published in June, the Jaguar system offered a maximum performance of 205 teraflops.

In just the past few months, Cray went ahead of its original schedule and upgraded the Jaguar system to offer more than a petaflop of performance. To increase the performance, Cray turned to its XT5 supercomputer systems and added 200 cabinets to the existing 84 that used the slightly older Cray XT4 systems.

The Cray XT Jaguar system now boasts of 45,000 quad-core AMD Opteron processors, along with 362 terabytes of system memory and a 10-petabyte file system. Jaguar also now offers 362 terabytes per second of memory bandwidth and an I/O bandwidth of 284 gigabytes per second.

"Jaguar is one of science's newest and most formidable tools for advancement in science and engineering," Raymond Orbach, the DOE's under secretary for science, wrote in a statement. "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."

Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct the performance numbers of the Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer