Cray XT3 supercomputer reaches 54 teraflops

Published 30 August 2006

Overhaul at Oak Ridge National Laboratory makes XT3 among fastest computers in the world

Sometimes very fast is not fast enough. Just ask Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, repeatedly accused of using performance-enhancing drugs to shave a half second off her hundred meter dash. Computers, however, have to gain speed the old-fashioned way: hard work. The recent overhaul of the Cray XT3 supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), for instance, required “replacing all 5,212 processors with Cray’s latest dual-core processors, doubling the memory and adding additional interconnect cables to double the bisection bandwidth. The Jaguar now features more than 10,400 processing cores and 21 terabytes of memory,” says an ORNL news release.

The effort has paid off, boosting the Cray XT3’s computing power to 54 teraflops (54 million calculations per second) and making it among the most powerful computers in the world. This is good news for companies such as Boeing and General Atomics, which are using the computer as part of a grant from the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. Boeing, for instance, is using its time on the computer to “demonstrate the benefits of higher-order physics modeling in the global design optimization cycle to wing design for aircraft.”

The INCITE program this year granted eighteen million hours of computing time to fifteen different teams, enabling scientists to create unprecedented simulations of problems in chemistry, combustion, astrophysics, genetics, and turbulence.

-read more in this ORNL press release; read more about the INCITE program here