IBM's Roadrunner set to smash supercomputing marks

IBM once again dominated the competition in semiannual rankings of supercomputers, but the big news is what's coming next year. Big Blue is working on a computer nicknamed "Roadrunner" that will combine Cell processors, a family of chips found inside the PlayStation 3, and processors from Advanced Micro Devices. Roadrunner, which will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in summer 2008, will be capable of performing more than a quadrillion operations, or a petaflop, when it's fully operational. IBM helped design and build the Cell chip and has been looking for ways to expand its commercial potential.

A computer that can churn a petaflop has been a longstanding goal for many manufacturers. IBM had the fastest computer on the Top500 Supercomputer Sites list, which was released Monday at the SC07 conference in Reno, Nev. The top machine, the Blue Gene/L supercomputer--located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory--is capable of 478.2 trillion operations, or 478.2 teraflops a second. Thus, Roadrunner will be twice as powerful.

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