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Opterons and Cell Help Roadrunner Supercomputer Break Petaflop Barrier

A $133 million Supercomputer built specifically to crunch military data has been unveiled by IBM and Los Alamos National Laboratory boffins

The son of Blue Gene and great-great grandson of Ascii Red is the first computer to break the Petaflop barrier - peaking at 1.026 PF - in a quest that should give scientists a better tool to measure everything from nuclear explosions to climate change models.

The supercomputer, dubbed Roadrunner, packs in nearly 13,000 IBM Cell Processors which are used by millions of Playstation 3 gamers as well as 7000 Opteron Processors made by AMD and will be twice as fast as Blue Gene, which held the title of world fastest computer till now.

Interestingly, Roadrunner uses only a fraction of the 213,000 processors used by Blue Gene although each of these processors house up to eight cores running at 4GHz and will require up to 3 megawatts of power to function.

IBM has already announced that it is working on another Petaflop computer called Blue Gene/P.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.