U.S. Department of Energy and IBM develop Roadrunner, the Fastest Supercomputer

U.S. Department of Energy IBM Logos The U.S. Department of Energy and IBM have announced the development of the new Roadrunner supercomputer. This is the first supercomputer which is capable of executing more than 1 petaflop (1,000 trillion) floating point operations per second.

Roadrunner has been especially developed by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for undertaking calculations that would improve the ability to certify if the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is reliable without conducting underground nuclear tests.

“This enormous accomplishment is the most recent example of how the U.S. Department of Energy’s world-renowned supercomputers are strengthening national security and advancing scientific discovery,” said Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy. “Roadrunner will not only play a key role in maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent, it will also contribute to solving our global energy challenges, and open new windows of knowledge in the basic scientific research fields.”

Talking about its specifications, in total, the Roadrunner connects 6,948 dual-core AMD Opteron chips (on IBM Model LS21 blade servers) as well as 12,960 Cell engines (on IBM Model QS22 blade servers). The Roadrunner system has 80 terabytes of memory, and is housed in 288 refrigerator-sized IBM BladeCenter racks occupying 6,000 square feet.

Besides, the supercomputer is energy-efficient too. It delivers world-leading efficiency – 376 million calculations per watt. IBM expects the Roadrunner to be included in the official “Green 500” list of supercomputers, which will be issued later this month.

Further IBM claims that to put this into perspective, if each of the 6 billion people on earth had a hand calculator and worked together on a calculation 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, it would take 46 years to do what Roadrunner would do in one day. Now that’s quite a feat!