Cray XT Jaguar: The New World's Fastest Supercomputer

Illustration for article titled Cray XT Jaguar: The New World's Fastest Supercomputer

Pumping out a sustained 1.64 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second (1.64 petaflops) after a recent technological overhaul, the Cray XT Jaguar is now the world's latest fastest supercomputer (huge disclaimer coming) for non-classified research. And once you see what's under the hood, you'll know why.The system is powered by 45,000 quad-core AMD Opteron processors that take advantage of 362 terabytes of memory. This and other underlaying architecture allows processors to chew on 284 gigabytes of data per second with its impressive I/O bandwidth, which has apparently been a major bottleneck in supercomputers of yesteryear. Information is stored on 750 terabytes of hard drives. The Cray XT Jaguar can be found at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory where it will create scientific breakthroughs during the day, and succumb to Crysis at night. [ORNL and EurkeAlert]



In the June 2008 Top 500 list, the Cray XT Jaguar was number 5 with 205 teraflop/s. By comparison, the number 1 was an IBM Roadrunner Bladecentre, with a mix of 6,562 Dual Core Opterons and 12,240 PowerXCell8i Cell Processors, housed in 278 cabinets. That got up to 1.026 petaflop/s.

In June the Jaguar had 30,000 Quad Core Opterons, and now it has 45,000. The previous machine was an XT4, but the most recent update shows that 200 XT5 cabinets have been added to it. I have been unable to find how many cabinets the Jaguar has in total, but it seems that in June it had 313 (30,000 Opterons and 96 Opterons per cabinet). To me, the Jaguar seems to be two machines: the Cray XT4, and the Cray XT5. I'm also wary how increasing the number of processors by 50% yeilds an 800% performance increase. I'm going to wait until the official figures have been released on the 18th.

If the Jaguar has had a performance increase, then I'd say the IBM machine would have had one too. It seems Cray are just fighting a war of attrition, trying to win back the supercomputing crown they held for so long (in the company's previous incarnations). They seem to be throwing processors at the problem. Yes there is more to supercomputers than processors (interconnects, switching, and memory management design are also vital ), but a 45,000 processor beast taking up 500+ cabinets is not a very elegant solution compared to a machine with 18,800 processors taking up only 278 cabinets (and arguably using far less power).