Children across Europe might still be recovering from the disappointment of learning that Santa will not be bringing them a Sony Playstation 3 this Christmas, because of delays in launching the console. But that hasn’t stopped US government researchers from having their fun though. Their plans for the console are a little grander than just playing the latest Grand Theft Auto instalment.
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are set on building Roadrunner, the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of running 1,000 trillion calculations per second – almost four times faster than the current king of the supercomputers, the Blue Gene/L, a supercomputer powered by over 130,000 IBM PowerPC chips, to run molecular dynamics applications at the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Furthermore, Roadrunner is being built using commercially available hardware, including some 16,000 Cell processors – the same chips that will power Sony’s next-generation PlayStation consoles.
These processors will be augmented with a corresponding array of Opteron processors from chip manufacturer AMD. This hybrid system will see typical compute processes, such as communication activities, being dealt with by the Opteron array, while the more complex activities will be directed to the IBM Cell processors.