Roadrunner ends its run

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LANL’s supercomputer falls to number two

By Roger Snodgrass

After 18 months at the top of the world’s fastest supercomputers, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Roadrunner has slipped to number two.

The current standings are scheduled to be announced Tuesday at the SC09 Conference in Portland, Oregon.

The new leader, after biting at the heels of Roadrunner for 18 months is Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jaguar.

Roadrunner is an IBM machine; Jaguar is made by Cray.

An announcement by TOP500 this morning rated the Jaguar Cray XT5 at 1.75 petaflops for its performance speed while running a standard benchmark system known as Linpack. Jaguar has new processors this year. LANL’s

Roadrunner has been reconfigured and actually dropped in speed since the last test in May, from 1.105 to 1.04 petaflops. A petflop is a quadrillion calculations per second, or a million billion.

Kevin Roark, a LANL spokesman said this morning that the change was not a surprise, because the Roadrunner was repartitioned to dedicate a section to unclassified research.

The unclassified section of Roadrunner is named Cerrillos.

“We spent spring and summer doing the roadrunner shakedown and working on science and preparing to move the machine into fully classified work; we’re in the middle of that transition,” he said.

The Roadrunner was the first petaflop computer in the world, having broken the equivalent of the “four-minute-mile” for supercomputers on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008. The Roadrunner’s blazing speed was attributed to a hybrid design that included AMD duel core processors and “off the shelf” chips related to processors used in the Sony PlayStation3.

An announcement Monday from LANL offered a glimpse of the Roadrunner at work modeling complex fluid flows. Daniel Livescu and of the Laboratory’s Computational Physics and Methods group are using the Roadrunner “to perform the largest turbulent reacting flow simulations to date,” related to the conditions encountered in the early stages of the supernova of a white dwarf star.