Just as so many gamers must compare 3DMark scores to validate their gamer-hood, research labs must spend their time building supercomputers that can do more stuff per second than anything else. In June, IBM’s Roadrunner became the first supercomputer to cross the petaflop barrier, performing 1.026 quadrillion floating-point operations per second (flops), making it the fastest supercomputer in the world.
Back in 2004, Cray started adding more processors to their extensible Jaguar XT supercomputer, taking it from 84 cabinets to 284. They’ve built one that they can add on to whenever they feel like. Today, the Jaguar runs on 45,000 quad-core Opterons, making that a total of 180,000 cores, and hits a peak performance of 1.64 petaflops, clearly unseating the Roadrunner.
The Jaguar will give scientists all the computing power they need to figure out the weather, nuclear fusion, and generally anything that perplexes them. And here we are, just talking when there’s science to do.