PlayStation 3 Cell Chip used to make fastest supercomputer again

Roadrunner Smashes the Petaflop Barrier, PlayStation 3 powered supercomputer fastest in world - Image 1Meep meep. The PlayStation 3’s powerful hardware does it again, contributing its powerful Cell Broadband Engine to create the world’s fastest supercomputer, er… again. Named the Roadrunner, this new supercomputer runs at speeds exceeding one petaflop – that is, one thousand trillion calculations per second. Let’s see Wile E. Coyote try to catch up with that. Watch a mini-documentary of the supercomputer in the full article.

Last year, IBM built the Blue Gene/P, then the world’s fastest supercomputer, powered by the PlayStation 3’s almighty Broadband Cell Chip. Now, the Blue Gene/P has been usurped by an even faster supercomputer, and it is to the PlayStation 3’s credit that its Cell Chip was used yet again to power it as well.

Called the Roadrunner, the supercomputer was designed for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and cost around US$ 100 million to build. The Roadrunner is a hybrid, and so doesn’t purely run on the PS3 Chip: it has 6,948 dual-core AMD Opteron chips and 12,960 Cell engines powering it.

Just how fast is the Roadrunner? Well, it runs on speeds exceeding a petaflop. What’s a petaflop? It’s one quadrillion calculations per second, or one thousand trillion calculations per second. If these numbers are meaningless to you, let’s put it this way: you’ll need 100,000 of today’s fastest laptops to equal the Roadrunner’s power.

That’s fast. Meep meep. So what does the Department of Energy plan to use it for anyhoo? Check out the mini-documentary below to find out more about the Roadrunner. No Wile E. Coyote in sight either:

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