U.S. decommissioning first petaflop supercomputer

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Los Alamos, NM, United States (4E) – The first U.S. supercomputer that can perform one thousand trillion calculations per second was shut down on Sunday in preparation for its decommissioning, according to its operator, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The IBM-built Roadrunner, which performed at 1.026 petaflops when it was commissioned in 2008 to monitor the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, has been overtaken in terms of speed by today’s supercomputers. The Titan at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (LANL) in Tennessee is currently the fastest supercomputer calculating at 17.59 petaflops.

The Roadrunner, however, is leaving the ranks of the world’s fastest supercomputers at a good ranking in the top 30 of its kind. It also has a final mission to add to its list of important achievements that include simulated testing and maintenance of nuclear weapons in place of underground testing, mapping the HIV genome, simulating the Big Bang to study dark matter, and calculating the physics of 64 proto-galaxies.

Researchers will perform experiments on the operating system’s memory compression techniques to aid the design of future supercomputers, according to Gary Grider, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s High Performance Computing Division.

The Roadrunner was built at a cost of $121 million. It uses Advanced Micro Devices processors housed in a network of 278 refrigerator-size server racks at the LANL.

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