Washington, November 18 : A high-performance computing system at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been proclaimed the world's fastest supercomputer for science.
The Cray XT, called Jaguar, has been ranked first in the list of the world's top 500 computers, released at an annual international supercomputing conference in Austin on Tuesday.
"This accomplishment is the culmination of our vision to regain leadership in high performance computing and harness its potential for scientific investigation. I am especially gratified because we make this machine available to the entire scientific community through an open and transparent process that has resulted in spectacular scientific results ranging from the human brain to the global climate to the origins of the Universe," said Undersecretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach.
Thom Mason, the Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said that the real value of the machine would be measured by the scientific breakthroughs that would be achieved in the future.
"We are proud to be home to the world's most powerful computer dedicated to open science, but we are more excited about the ability of Oak Ridge and the Department of Energy to take a leading role in finding solutions to scientific challenges such as new energy sources and climate change," Mason said.
Beginning as a 26-teraflop system in 2005, Oak Ridge embarked upon a three-year series of aggressive upgrades designed to make their machine the world's most powerful computing system.
The researchers upgraded the Cray XT to 119 teraflops in 2006, and 263 teraflops in 2007.
In 2008, the new 1.64-petaflop system had about 182,000 AMD Opteron processing cores, which made it over 60 times larger than its original predecessor.
Thomas Zacharia, the laboratory's associate director for Computing and Computational Sciences, has revealed that Jaguar has thus far already run scientific applications ranging from materials to combustion on the entire system, sustaining petaflops performance on multiple applications.
A calculation that once took months can now be done in minutes, adds Zacharia.
He points out that six of the top ten recent scientific advancements in computational science used Jaguar to provide unprecedented insight into supernovas, combustion, fusion, superconductivity, dark matter, and mathematics.
Jaguar also has substantial memory to help solve complex problems, sizeable disk space for storing massive amounts of data, and unmatched speed to read and write files.
The TOP 500 list is released twice a year, and it ranks powerful computing systems on their speed in running a benchmark program called HPL, for High-Performance Linpack.