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Roadrunner: World's Fastest Computer in 2009

Roadrunner is a supercomputer built by IBM at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA. Currently the world's fastest computer, the US$133-million Roadrunner is designed for a peak performance of 1.7 petaflops, achieving 1.026 on May 25, 2008, and to be the world's first TOP500 Linpack sustained 1.0 petaflops system.

It is a one-of-a-kind supercomputer, built from commodity parts, with many novel design features.

IBM built the computer for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration. It is a hybrid design with 12,960 IBM PowerXCell 8i CPUs and 6,480 AMD Opteron dual-core processors in specially designed server blades connected by Infiniband. The Roadrunner uses Red Hat Enterprise Linux along with Fedora as its operating systems and is managed with xCAT distributed computing software. It also uses the Open MPI Message Passing Interface implementation.

Roadrunner occupies approximately 6,000 square feet (560 m2) and became operational in 2008.

The DOE plans to use the computer for simulating how nuclear materials age in order to predict whether the USA's aging arsenal of nuclear weapons is safe and reliable. Other uses for the Roadrunner include the sciences, financial, automotive and aerospace industries.

Roadrunner differs from many contemporary supercomputers in that it is a hybrid system, using two different processor architectures. Usually supercomputers only use one, since such a design is easier to design and program for. To realise the full potential of Roadrunner, all software will have to be written specially for this hybrid architecture. The hybrid design consists of dual-core Opteron server processors manufactured by AMD utilizing the standard AMD64 architecture. Attached to each Opteron core is a Cell processor manufactured by IBM using Power Architecture technology. As a supercomputer, the Roadrunner is considered an Opteron cluster with Cell accelerators, as each node consists of a Cell attached to an Opteron core and the Opterons to each other.