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Cell-based "Roadrunner" Tops Elusive Petaflop Mark

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the beep-beep dept.

Supercomputing 269

prunedude writes "The NY times is reporting that an American military supercomputer, assembled from components originally designed for video game machines, is more than twice as fast as the previous fastest supercomputer, the I.B.M. BlueGene/L. To put the performance of the machine in perspective, Thomas P. D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day."

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Ummm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704087)

I saw the Linpack scores in my lab that said it went _over_ a teraflop. Can't read the article. Don't know what we're trying to pull? Anonymous.

Re:Ummm (2, Funny)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704095)

They're trying to pull 1000 times your lab's results.

Summary should have a shout out (2, Informative)

HolyCoitus (658601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704101)

1350 IBM Linux cluster team. xCAT for pwning.

Re:Summary should have a shout out (1)

Thalin (130318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704321)

Yay for 1350. Go us. :)

But can it run.... (3, Funny)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704109)

By can it run Crysis?

Re:But can it run.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704213)

Why would anyone want to?

Crysis is a miserably boring game.

Re:But can it run.... (3, Funny)

setagllib (753300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704273)

The marketing for that game was done all wrong. Insiders report that it was meant as an interactive preview of 3DMark2020.

Re:But can it run.... (0, Offtopic)

Warll (1211492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704365)

Crysis is a miserably boring game.
It is? Too bad no one told me that before I had plenty of fun playing through it.

Re:But can it run.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704433)

If you had fun playing Crysis, you gotta try this game:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddleball

It should absolutely blow you away. And you won't have to waste hundreds to thousands of dollars on you 'rig' to do so...

Rig, LOL, what a bunch of losers.

Re:But can it run.... (3, Funny)

Warll (1211492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704777)

Mah I'm a PC gamer myself, haven't used a handheld in years.

Re:But can it run.... (3, Funny)

beav007 (746004) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704489)

Can it even run Vista Ultimate?

Re:But can it run.... (4, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704519)

Hah you think the military is dumb enough to even install Vista? Haven't you ever heard of military intelli... errm.. nevermind. Yeah, I'm sure they have it installed already.

Why the slashdot downtime? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704111)

I've been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn't understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where, uh, Phil Collins' presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group's undisputed masterpiece. It's an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Hemos, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. CmdrTaco, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. CmdrTaco, why don't you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as, uh, anything I've heard in rock. Hemos, get down on your knees so CmdrTaco can see your asshole. Phil Collins' solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and, uh, Against All Odds. CmdrTaco, don't just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.

Question (0, Troll)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704121)

What exactly would the military use a supercomputer for? Being a pessimist, the only thing I can really think of is the air force doing the obvious shady things that it does. But there has to be some statistical purpose for such a beastly machine.

Re:Question (4, Informative)

avalys (221114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704167)

It will be used for nuclear weapons simulations - primarily for investigating issues related to how warheads will perform as they age.

Re:Question (5, Informative)

Anthony Rosequist (1110043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704217)

Before it does weapons simulations, it will first work on some scientific problems, like model testing to predict climate change.

After it's done with that (I wonder how they will determine what done is...), it will go classified and do nuke simulations.

Re:Question (0, Troll)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704571)

You know what they say. Garbage in garbage out.

I've heard rumors about how the data is collected for global temperatures. For example, some thermometers have been found on the roof tops of building coated with black tar while others close by a heat exchanger. But naw, that couldn't skew the results could it?

Re:Question (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704685)

And I've heard that republicans eat babies. As someone who has worked with climate models including data collection I can safely say you're full of shit. There are thousands of research stations collecting the data. For it to be generally corrupted, there'd have to be some vast global conspiracy whereby publically competing research stations and countries agree to privately skew their data.

Now there IS something of a vast global conspiracy (PNAC, Republicans, Bilderberg, etc), but, er, it's not on the pro-environmental-sanity side.

FWIW, if anything, the climate change stuff you usually see is an underestimate. 8-(

Re:Question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704939)

And I've heard that republicans eat babies. As someone who has worked with climate models including data collection I can safely say you're full of shit. There are thousands of research stations collecting the data. For it to be generally corrupted, there'd have to be some vast global conspiracy whereby publically competing research stations and countries agree to privately skew their data.
Or, you could create a system for funding research that provides financial rewards to over-the-top alarmism.

That'd work, too.

Re:Question (3, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704955)

Quick, make it play tic tac toe against itself.

Re:Question (5, Funny)

kylehase (982334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704995)

Perhaps they should invest in a computer to track warhead parts.

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704171)

Lets say you have designed a nuclear weapon.

Wouldn't it be really neat to run some tests before you build it?

For instance, how cool would it be to have a simulation that could test a weapon being mishandled, or shot. At every single point from every possible angle at every possible velocity?

It would be nice to know that there is a possibility of detonation if it were to drop off of a loading rack.

Re:Question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704591)

You obviously know nothing about nuclear weapons.

Re:Question (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704683)

>You obviously know nothing about nuclear weapons.

So nobody has to shoot him.

Re:Question (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704187)

"shady things" ? What in the world are you talking about?

          Brett

Re:Question (5, Funny)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704197)

What exactly would the military use a supercomputer for?

The military will use this advanced technology to assist and perhaps automate the RTFA process, also known as Reading The Fucking Article, which would allow you to answer your query without posting.

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704405)

the only thing I can really think of is the air force doing the obvious shady things that it does.

Uh ... what exactly do you mean by "shady things"? If you have a problem with what our armed forces are doing, you'd be better off leveling your charges at Congress. Ultimately, they're the ones that fund any "shady" things the military does.

Re:Question (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704515)

Uh...codebreaking?

Re:Question (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704947)

The military didn't build Roadrunner. The U.S. Department of Energy built it, one in a long line of supercomputers used for (in addition to many other things) simulations to evaluate the reliability of the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile.

exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraflop (3, Insightful)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704129)

Military taking the lead on computing as usual. Why is the military so much more progressive (with practical results) than any other institution of government?

It will be used principally to solve classified military problems to ensure that the nation's stockpile of nuclear weapons will continue to work correctly as they age. The Roadrunner will simulate the behavior of the weapons in the first fraction of a second during an explosion. Before it is placed in a classified environment, it will also be used to explore scientific problems like climate change.
So, it also has Cell-based processors AND Opterons. I wonder what the functional division between the two chip types is?

"If Chevy wins the Daytona 500, they try to convince you the Chevy Malibu you're driving will benefit from this," said Steve Wallach, a supercomputer designer who is chief scientist of Convey Computer, a start-up firm based in Richardson, Tex. Those who work with weapons might not have much to offer the video gamers of the world, he suggested.

Who cares? It's awesome sui generis.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704179)

> Before it is placed in a classified environment, it will also be used to explore scientific problems like climate change.

Great. It will be the first classified nuclear simulation to be infected with the Storm worm.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704233)

The military is more progressive because there's not a whole lot they can do to advance things.

They can hope for random breakthroughs, mostly based on chance/luck/etc..

Or they can follow the natural progression of things. If you want to make things explode you have to know the nature of the explosion. And to know the nature of explosions you have to know all about high-energy physics at a molecular level. And to know about high-energy physics you have to know about how molecules and atoms interact. Now, with all of these things you can either make them yourself and study the real explosion, or you can simulate it and confirm with real-world results..which is what they're doing.

They have the resources AND the desire to do so, and therefore, they are doing so. Private industries will rarely do things like this on their own. They're much more likely to wait for someone else to do the research, or research with grants and then patent the results for their own profit. Its the same reason NASA has spurred many developments and improvements in the rest of the civilian world.

This setup will make it easier to study weather, physics, etc, etc. On the other hand, it'll also make it easier to figure out how to make bigger sticks that are lighter and sharper.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704235)

Military taking the lead on computing as usual. Why is the military so much more progressive (with practical results) than any other institution of government?
I wouldn't say "as usual." The prior computer at the top for more than 2 years was at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (1)

students (763488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704331)

Livermore uses their Blue Genie/L for mostly the same thing. They are responsible for the country's nuclear technology. The upcoming Blue Genie/P will also do weapons simulations, among other things.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (5, Informative)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704309)

Military taking the lead on computing as usual. Why is the military so much more progressive (with practical results) than any other institution of government?

Are you kidding? [warresisters.org]

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (4, Insightful)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704407)

Are you kidding?

Not really. The post you link to describes the defense budget as it dwarfs other spending, but doesn't really argue why or why not that spending is progressive/regressive.

The military was one of the first racially integrated public institutions in the U.S., it researched and funded the Internet, it's pouring money into synthetic fuels right now, and it's pushing the limits of computing power as seen in this article. There are numerous other scientific and social areas in which the military advances society, with far more practical results than do-gooders in other government or public institutions.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (5, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704589)

"There are numerous other scientific and social areas in which the military advances society, with far more practical results than do-gooders in other government or public institutions."

It's because the military doesn't have the scrutiny and oversight other institutions do, lets face it. Do public institutions besides the miilitary get secret prison's and liscense to do whatever the want? The military is not held back by moral qualms. We've seen this with all sorts of classified documents coming out of the government. The military has budgets that are kept secret. For anyone to claim the 'military helps us' vs public institutions, we'd have to do an analysis. But that would be fairly difficult and politically sensitive, now wouldn't it?

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (2, Interesting)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704621)

...secret prison's [sic]...not held back by moral qualms...

Are you really arguing that the scientific and social advances from the military arise from secret prisons and lack of moral qualms?

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704857)

My point is they do not have the same barriers other institutions do: i.e. the gaps funding and scrutiny. My point about mentioning secret prisons was merely an example of the previous point.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704693)

Why is the military so much more progressive (with practical results) than any other institution of government?
Military is the expression of the power of a nation as a whole... the means by which nations, using their national resources, keep ahead of the pack. The rest of the government is bloated bureaucracy designed to keep that powerful military in check and keep society functioning.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (1)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704739)

You sound like a lot of the scary fin de siècle German political theorists that I have to read for my poli-sci Ph.D. studies. Calm down--we all know how that story ended.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704735)

The opterons are used to feed the cell processors. They are paired up, one opteron for each cell.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704973)

From my understanding of the "So, it also has Cell-based processors AND Opterons. I wonder what the functional division between the two chip types is?" question is that the Cell is awful for doing any type of management, so a supercomputer requires the Opteron to handle the delegation of tasks to the Cell processors. I have to hand it to the Cell's for their fp calculations though.

Re:exaflop, zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraf (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704991)

So, it also has Cell-based processors AND Opterons. I wonder what the functional division between the two chip types is?

Each node has two Opterons and 4 PowerXCell 8 processors (an upgrade to the PS3's Cell processor). This allows a developer writing code for the platform to run in a number of different modes: all Opteron, all Cell, or something in between. The first of these (all Opteron) may constitute a significant amount of the early work on the machine by practitioners, as they can simply compile legacy codes to the platform and ignore the Cell processors. Of course, to reap the full benefit of the machine, developers will exploit both the Cell chips and the Opteron chips.

The future (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704181)

Who didn't see this coming from Cell?

Re:The future (0, Troll)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704259)

I certainly didn't, especially when Sony's proclamation of the PS2 being a supercomputer resulted in no actual emotion engine based system other than the PS2 being produced.

Enough With The Fanboyism (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704383)

"I certainly didn't"

He was obviously asking about people with a clue, not stupid little fanboys who love to spout obviously false quotes and claims supposedly made by console makers.

Sony NEVER once claimed the PS2 was a supercomputer. Not ONCE.

The EE WAS powerful, cheap, and power efficient enough that at the time of its arrival on the market it fell under government scrutiny for its potential military uses. The EE utterly SHIT over any other chip on the market or would be on the market for another two years after its release with regards to its floating point power and heat/power usage combination.

Let me guess, you're another one of those pathetic little fanboys who go around repeating that tired old lie about Sony, the PS2, and Toy Story graphics...

http://builder-news.com.com/2100-1040-250632.html

"One of the basic premises of the Xbox is to put the power in the hands of the artist," Blackley said, which is why Xbox developers "are achieving a level of visual detail you really get in 'Toy Story.'"

Re:The future (5, Informative)

Thalin (130318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704665)

This is actually based on Cell 2 or as IBM marketing likes to say it "Cell eXtreme"!

Cell 1 (the Playstation chip) didn't have the double precision floating performance to achieve the petaflop mark; Cell 2 is far better on that front.

Yes, but... (1)

parsnip11 (637516) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704195)

...what if you had a beowulf cluster of these?

So what is it for? (1)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704221)

"if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day."

This contraption makes lots of people really, really, tired of punching on calculators?

calculators (2, Funny)

hansoloaf (668609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704397)

I bet if everyone had the TI-57, it'll take the aforementioned 46 years.
But the TI-68 will cut it down to 23 years.

Re:calculators (1)

MilesAttacca (1016569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704651)

Does it count if I do my figures on a TI-99?

Change in paradigm (5, Informative)

karvind (833059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704265)

If one looks at http://www.top500.org/ [top500.org] list and compare the CPU frequencies of the top supercomputers - all BlueGene CPUs were running at less than a GHz. And it seemed those low power cores were key to HPC (high performance computing). Cell and opteron - both run at multiple GHz and (presumably consume more power). IBM still has next generation of BlueGene/Q in works and is also for +Petaflop computation.

Re:Change in paradigm (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704657)

The Bluegene/L uses a PowerPC 440 chip. However these chips don't include an FPU in the core, unless IBM made special ones with an FPU or they're using a separate FPU chip on the processor boards. I think it's interesting their Linpack score/processor is on par with the #3 spot consisting of quad-core Xeons.

wikipedia (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704907)

Each Compute or I/O node is a single ASIC with associated DRAM memory chips. The ASIC integrates two 700 MHz PowerPC 440 embedded processors, each with a double-pipeline-double-precision Floating Point Unit (FPU), a cache sub-system with built-in DRAM controller and the logic to support multiple communication sub-systems. The dual FPUs give each BlueGene/L node a theoretical peak performance of 5.6 GFLOPS (gigaFLOPS). Node CPUs are not cache coherent with one another.

I feel bad for Whyle E. ... (4, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704271)

...There's no catapult in the world that will catch THAT roadrunner!

But my pocket calculator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704293)

is a macbook pro!

Better comparison (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704301)

Can we have a better comparison? Everyone know that computer caculate much faster than a man with a caculator.

Re:Better comparison (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704417)


Yes, but can it spell better too?

Mouse brain at half speed? (1)

dgarbett (833374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704435)

The previous model was able to simulate a mouse brain at quarter speed IIRC

so what else is new? (5, Funny)

WheresMyDingo (659258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704305)

the roadrunner always wins, so it no surprise it topped this "petaflop mark" guy (yeesh, what a name).

and roadrunner's always been cel-based, at least in the modern era. i bought one of those cels from the warner bros. store before they went under, nice one too with his tongue sticking out

Re:so what else is new? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704827)

you suck
your sense of humour is extremely weak
fuck off

Re:so what else is new? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704935)

your sense of humour is extremely weak
I like how you spelt humour. But apart from that you have a total lack of it.

Perspective? (5, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704343)

To put the performance of the machine in perspective, Thomas P. D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day."
That really put it in perspective for me. I normally judge a supercomputer by how many "all Earth people hand calculation years" it can do in a day...

Re:Perspective? (2, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704585)

Normally I would compare computers by floating operations per second. However sicne I guess we are going back to the old style of comparing it to people doing calculations by hand. What about all the people on earth using abaci 24/7? Or by leagues per bushel over cubits squared?

Re:Perspective? (2, Funny)

Thalin (130318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704675)

At IBM we like to measure things in "Libraries of Congress per second", or perhaps "747s of phonebooks per second". ;)

Re:Perspective? (1)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23705009)

What I need to know, is how many candlepower is its HDD access light, and how many horsepower would it take to drive this thing from Tokyo to Timbuktu?

err (0)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704347)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Cell wasn't designed originally for the PS3, even though that is the primary role it has found itself in.

Re:err (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704535)

It was designed originally for the PS3. But not solely for it.

Cell was the brainchild of Ken Kutagari of Sony and Peter Hofstee of IBM.

ummm... (5, Insightful)

WheresMyDingo (659258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704375)

if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day

probably because most of those people would either try to eat the calculator or sell it for food and medicine

Back it my day! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704391)

The kids these days are lazy, back in my day if we wanted to know if a nuke worked we'd take it out back test it!
Whatever happened to nuked marsh mellows or sitting round with Geiger counters trying to make funny sounds?
Kids are lazy these days!

Not in perspective (3, Insightful)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704425)

To put the performance of the machine in perspective, Thomas P. D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day.

That does not put the performance of the machine in perspective at all. Technical details would be much more accurate and effective.

Re:Not in perspective - this is a media number (5, Interesting)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704663)

This is a perfect example of a propellor head trying to come up with an analogy for a media/marketing type. I suspect that this was the only one that the powers that be felt non-techies could relate to. I've been asked to come up with these analogies a couple of times and it can be pretty frustrating on both sides.

I suspect the first example of this happening was trying to estimate how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.

Other meaningless analogies could be:
  • How long it would take Roadrunner to count all the atoms in the universe
  • What speed your car would run at if the speed difference between Roadrunner and your home computer was multiplied by 60 mph
  • If we could go this many times faster than the speed of light, how fast could we cross the universe
  • If in every instruction it could take in one byte of text, how long it would take to read the Library of Congress
  • How fast it could render "The Incredibles" compared to how long it took the original server farm (actually, this might be one that's understandable)
  • How fast it could break the 128 bit encryption used when you log onto your bank's web page to pay your bills (this might also be understandable and would probably be a bit scary)

The simple fact is that a petaflop computer works faster than humans can conceive and any kind of analogy cannot be comprehended.

myke

Re:Not in perspective - this is a media number (4, Informative)

jareds (100340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704801)

How fast it could break the 128 bit encryption used when you log onto your bank's web page to pay your bills (this might also be understandable and would probably be a bit scary)

No, not at all scary. It's apparently twice is fast as the BlueGene/L, which apparently set a record of 478.2 teraFLOPS. Let's assume it takes 1 floating-point operation to test a single key, which is a gross underestimate. We'll thus assume the Roadrunner can test 10^15 keys per second. Testing 2^128 keys would then take about 10^16 years.

Re:Not in perspective - this is a media number (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704905)

Thanx - I should have done the back of envelope like you've done here before coming up with that particular analogy.

myke

Re:Not in perspective - this is a media number (1)

jthill (303417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704833)

The analogy I've liked best is distance: in this case, in the time it takes ars's God Box to get to the supermarket, this puppy has been around the world a few times.

Ahh, analogies, so unhelpful (0, Redundant)

lawaetf1 (613291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704453)

Thomas P. D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day."

And if you tried to re-produce the energy present in a single tank of gas it would take you a year of back-breaking labor. Probably more like five years.
Which isn't to say that I don't think the machine is impressive. Were it only around a few years ago it might have calculated that the Iraq war wouldn't be a lil' "let freedom ring!" jaunt.

Re:Ahh, analogies, so unhelpful (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704747)

Especially if the people on the calculators are just pressing +1 over and over again for 46 years.

Take that petaflop with a grain of salt (4, Interesting)

jimhill (7277) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704485)

As a software developer who's worked on the Lab's previous ASC machines (Blue Mountain, Q, Lightning) I can say that once the calculation is run to get a machine atop Jack Dongarra's gee-golly list, it's partitioned, segmented, divided, and subjected to such crappy resource management that if I could trade the entire machine for a pair of coupled 8-core Mac Pros I'd do it in a heartbeat.

The real PITA with these machines is that the powers that be are trying to kill two birds with one stone: they want an R&D platform for advanced computing, but they also want to certify an aging and untestable nuclear stockpile. That rather requires a fairly static platform, and so far our experience with ASC has been that when a machine hits that sweet state, they yank it and give us the next one.

yes but... (1)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704499)

if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day.


if those calculators were RPN, it would take only 32 years.

The CELL processor is single precision (0)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704559)

which translates into wrong answers most of the time. Me guess is that for problems requireing double-precision numerics, you should divide CELL based supercomputer by 10 to 100 (software emulation of double precision is MASSIVELY SLOW), so this is really a teraflop machine. No big whoop...NEXT!!!

This CELL is not single precision (4, Informative)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704951)

The CELL processor is single precision, which translates into wrong answers most of the time. Me guess is that for problems requireing double-precision numerics, you should divide CELL based supercomputer by 10 to 100 (software emulation of double precision is MASSIVELY SLOW), so this is really a teraflop machine. No big whoop...NEXT!!!

Things move fast in technology Jethro, including this 2nd gen of the CELL proc, this is what you missed:

Double Precision FP - 190TFLOPS (5 times faster than 1st CELL)
Memory: Expanded to 32gb
Memory: DDR2 instead of Rambus
65nm (I know, I know, but it's better than 90nm)

Re:The CELL processor is single precision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704963)

It really is amazing how dumb some readers are here.
I mean, it's easy enough to read the article,
or perhaps read the LANL article above. The
machine in question is an enhanced Cell system,
in fact capable of double precision ops as opposed
to first generation Cell silicon,

Really, RTFM is most applicable when considering
answering an engineering related article. Putz.
(sorry, this nonsense just pisses me off....why
so few really deep thinkers on slashdot?????)

Computing the data pyramids (1, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704601)

Thomas P. D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week...
I think this analogy may reveal a little more than intended about government's vision for humanity.

"Let my people goto!"

Re:Computing the data pyramids (1)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704681)

You're right. The Bush Administration has had plans from before 9/11 to pour vast sums of money into actuarial and accounting schools through a secret CIA slush fund operating in various former Eastern bloc countries.

The result of their research: (4, Funny)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704609)

The answer is 42. The question is left as an exercise for the reader.

Military?? (Dept of Energy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704633)

Folks,
It is the Department of Energy that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory. Even if it is on a military base.

Yet... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704649)

...a source from the last week (I can't put my finger on it right now) says that some boffs have built a cluster with over 120,000 cores; this system was used during testing to simulate ten seconds of processing in half a mouse brain. This processing took three /days/ to complete.

Does this mean that mice are smarter than humans?

WTF happened to plain old units of measure? (3, Funny)

PseudoThink (576121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704677)

if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day

I'm glad to see the continuing trend of creatively "dumbing down" units of measure (in this case, flops) to the point where they are not only practically useless, but entirely divorced from reality. I would like to propose the following similar, hype-worthy measure for fuel economy:

Old: Miles per gallon
New: Number of miles from which one would smell the excrement from the number of cattle one could feed for a day with the amount of corn it would take to produce one gallon.

Re:WTF happened to plain old units of measure? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704959)

I'm glad to see the continuing trend of creatively "dumbing down" units of measure (in this case, flops)
Yeah, my dad would have flipped if he'd read the summary.

Yes, It Does Run Linux (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704733)

As I posted the last time this story was reported (in IBM Touts Supercomputers for Enterprise [slashdot.org] ") in "Yes, It Does Run Linux" [slashdot.org] :

From IBM's detailed press release [ibm.com]:

the QS22 boasts an open environment, utilizing the flexibility of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the primary operating system and the open development environment of Eclipse.


That means that a PS3 running Linux [psubuntu.com] , even with its ridiculously low 512MB RAM, can be used as a $500 development platform for these CellBE BladeServers.

And, in turn, some QS22 SW might be usable on the PS3, if it can be ported to use the tiny RAM. Or if someone hooks an i-RAM bank to the SATA port as swap/ramdisk, using perhaps iSCSI over its Gb-e for storage.


Now get out there and supercompute!

Old News (3, Informative)

MBHkewl (807459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704741)

This was covered last year, and the Los Alamos website [lanl.gov] had a few interviews with some people involved on what the uses of Roadrunner are. They had a time-line of what phases are to be done, and as far as memory serves me, they were going with Opterons for the first phase, then performance assessment, then add the Cell processors in the third phase.

From these pictures [lanl.gov] , it clearly shows they're using IBM Blades (4 chassis in each rack), and IBM already offers BladeQ [ibm.com] servers which use Cell processors for HPC applications. The IBM BladeQ servers pack double the CPUs of a PS3.

If you take a look at the Folding@Home project statistics [stanford.edu] , you can see the performance of PS3 boxes, and almost relate...

Does not compute... (0, Redundant)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704745)

if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day.

Can I have that figure in something more useful, like Library of Congresses / Fortnight or an automotive analogy?

Explore scientific problems like climate change? (2, Funny)

hamster_nz (656572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704755)

The article mentions that it will be used to explore climate change. At 3MW, perhaps it is likely to cause climate change!

Re: Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23704805)

If all 6 billion people on earth sat down and used hand calculators to do anything, we'd have world peace and no need for this computer. But it was paid for by the Bush Administration, so this is not a surprise.

It will take new technologies. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704859)

It is highly doubtful that the "zettaflop", a million times this petaflop, will be achieved by "conventional" circuitry. That will take optical or some other kind of computing (probably not quantum). The yottaflop will likely be quantum or molecular-state computing, or something unexpected.

1st PETAflop computer (1)

karmer (1269290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704883)

Roadrunner = Audrey III ?

Yes (0, Offtopic)

Konster (252488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23704913)

But will it blend?
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