November 16, 2003

New blood joins supercomputer ranking

Of the top 10 systems on a list of the 500 most powerful supercomputers expected to be announced Sunday, three machines are new, one is upgraded, and two are based on processors that have never before appeared on the list: IBM's PowerPC 970 and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron.

The IBM chips show up in a $5.2 million system officially named X but informally dubbed "Big Mac that Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University researchers assembled over two months from 1,100 dual-processor Apple G5 computers. That system ranked No. 3 with a performance of 10.3 trillion calculations per second, or 10.3 teraflops.

The Opterons are used in a 2,816-processor cluster built by Linux Networx for Los Alamos National Laboratory. Its sustained speed is 8 teraflops.


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