Jaguar supercomputer races past Roadrunner in Top500

Cray XT5 supercomputer known as "Jaguar" finally bests IBM after three tries. The top 10, while still dominated by supercomputers housed in the U.S., had just one newcomer.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
2 min read
Cray XT5 supercomputer
The Cray XT5 supercomputer. Image courtesy of the National Center for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Cray XT5 supercomputer known as "Jaguar" has finally clawed its way to the title of fastest computer in the world.

Sitting back at No. 2 on the Top500 list of supercomputers for more than a year, Jaguar overtook IBM's "Roadrunner" according to the twice-yearly list that will be unveiled Tuesday at the SC09 Conference in Portland, Ore.

Jaguar beat out the competition by showing it can process 1.75 petaflop/s, or quadrillions of floating point operations per second, according to the Top500 Linpack benchmark. IBM's Roadrunner was pushed back to No. 2 by posting a processing speed of 1.04 petaflop/s, a dip from the 1.105 petaflop/s it reached in a June 2009 test. The slower performance this time around is apparently due to a repartitioning of the system.

Every six months when the Top500 List is released the threshold to grab a place on it gets higher. The slowest supercomputer (No. 500) on November's list posted a speed of 20 teraflop/s, up from the 17.1 teraflop/s of six months ago. In other words, what is the slowest computer this time around would have been No. 336 in June.

Kraken, another Cray XT5 system, jumped up two places from its former No. 5 position by posting a processing performance speed of 832 teraflop/s. IBM's BlueGene/P, from Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany, came in at No. 4 with 825.5 teraflop/s. At No. 5 is China's Tianhe-1, the highest ranking ever for a Chinese supercomputer.

The top 10, while still dominated by supercomputers housed in the United States, had just one newcomer. That would be Sandia National Laboratories' "Red Sky," a Sun Blade system that posted a Linpack performance of 423 teraflop/s.

Just as the last time the list was released, the Top500 list is made up mostly of Hewlett-Packard and IBM computers. HP accounted for 210 of this year's 500, and IBM 185. In terms of processors in use, Intel still enjoys the lion's share, with 80 percent. The most popular operating system is Linux, with 90 percent of the Top500.

Here's the Top 10:

  • Jaguar, Cray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1.75 petaflop/s)

  • Roadrunner, IBM, Los Alamos National Laboratory (1.04 petaflop/s)

  • Kraken XT5, Cray, National Institute for Computational Sciences (832 teraflop/s)

  • JUGENE, IBM, Forschungszentrum Juelich (825.5 teraflop/s)

  • Tianhe-1, NUDT, National SuperComputer Center in Tianjin (563.1 teraflop/s)

  • Pleiades, SGI, NASA Ames Research Center (544.3 teraflop/s)

  • BlueGeneL, IBM, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (478.2 teraflop/s)

  • BlueGene/P, IBM, Argonne National Laboratory (458.61 teraflop/s)

  • Ranger, Sun, Texas Advanced Computing Center (433.20 teraflop/s)

  • Red Sky, Sun, Sandia National Laboratories (423.9 teraflop/s)

For the full Top500 List head to the official site.