Los Alamos Lab's Roadrunner Supercomputer To Be Shut Down

The fastest supercomputer in the world in 2009 will be shutdown today, according to the Los Alamos National Labs.

8599713655_c725fb6f3d_bRoadrunner, the first supercomputer to break the once-elusive petaflop barrier—one million billion calculations per second—will be decommissioned on Sunday, March 31.

Roadrunner’s design was unique, and controversial. It combined two different kinds of processors, making it a “hybrid.” It had 6,563 dual-core general-purpose processors (AMD Opterons™), with each core linked to a special graphics processor (PowerXCell 8i) called a “Cell.” The Cell was an enhanced version of a specialized processor originally designed for the Sony Playstation 3®, adapted specifically to support scientific computing.

Future supercomputers will need to improve on Roadrunner’s energy efficiency to make the power bill affordable. Future supercomputers will also need new solutions for handling and storing the vast amounts of data involved in such massive calculations.

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