ORNL Smackdown

Supercomputers in the US have been overshadowed by systems in Japan and China which have been turbo charged with GPUs from Nvidia. The fastest computer on the planet is currently located in Japan (K computer) and the second fastest system is located in China (Tianhe-1A). Well the US's top dog system, currently ranked third, located at ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) is apparently not a happy camper. The Cray XT-5 'Jaguar' system is being upgraded to house 18,000 Nvidia GPUs. This should give the new system, code named Titan, 20 PetaFlops of computational capacity. This will theoretically put it back at the number 1 spot on the top 500 list.

The US Department of Energy is funding this upgrade. Unlike the systems in Japan and China, the US system will be powered by Nvidia's next gen GPU code named Kepler. Nvidia's Kepler chips promise to deliver more than a TeraFlop of computational capacity per chip. Titan will also contain 299,088 AMD Opteron processing cores and should be ready somtime in 2013 (assuming the world doesn't end in 2012).

This should be well received by those researchers lucky enough to get time on the new system. For those of you who are not so lucky, why not build your own supercomputer? The ClusterChimps Guide to Building and Programming a Virtual Supercomputer will walk you through the process of building and programming you very own Virtual Supercomputer. While your system will probably not be as powerful as the one at ORNL, you won't have to share it with anyone.

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