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Cell Processor Drives Record-Breaking Supercomputer

It seems like every time you turn around, there's a new "record-breaking supercomputer." Well, IBM has made another one; this sucker is twice as fast as the previous record holder and the PlayStation 3 Cell processor sits firmly at its core.

According to GameSpot and the BBC, Roadrunner runs at ridiculous petaflop - one thousand trillion calculations per second - speeds, which easily tops what was the most powerful computer in the world, the BlueGene/L. That one runs at 478.2 teraflops (trillions of calcs/second, not thousands of trillions calcs/second), and uses 212,992 processors. But believe it or not, Roadrunner needs only 20,000 chips as the special design will utilize "both conventional Opteron processors made by AMD and the PlayStation 3's Cell processor. " This project took "several years" of work by engineers from Sony, IBM and Toshiba, and the result is a machine that uses 13,000 of the PS3's Cell processors, with each one of the 8-core chips performing at speeds of 4GHz. Roadrunner's first practical task? To show up at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and "monitor the country's nuclear stockpile." Sounds important.

Remember during the dawn of the computing age when a computer would take up an entire room and barely be able to play tic-tac-toe? Yeah, things have changed. Roadrunner will need a lot of space, of course, but it's probably a gajillion times more powerful; it'll be housed in 288 refrigerator-sized cases and linked together with 57 miles of fibre-optic cable. Oh, and while we all know the PS3 consumes a giant amount of power, that pales in comparison to the three megawatts of power Roadrunner is going to need. And here's the final set of statistics that will make your head swim, as offered by the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino:

If everybody on earth (that's about 6 billion people) used a regular ol' calculator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, it would take them 46 years to perform the calculations Roadrunner could manage in one day. ...now we know why the Coyote was never able to catch his quarry.

6/9/2008 Ben Dutka

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Comments (15 posts)

KidCallaway123
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 1:58:09 PM
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Technology is a wonderful thing!!

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Odd Child
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 2:15:15 PM
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I'll take that

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AscientDire
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 2:24:27 PM
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Looks like Ray Kurzweil knew what he was talking about (only in prediction of course). Moore's Law just keeps on going!

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bamf
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 3:08:11 PM
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PS4 here it comes, lol

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Bugzbunny109
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 6:08:33 PM

exactly bamf they sould seriously put this in ps4

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Dan
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 5:45:42 PM
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WOW... :O

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Qubex
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 7:39:30 PM
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I recently downloaded an IBM PDF whitepaper on the developments currently being undertaken on the next generation of Cell chips, it seems 32 SPU's will be the order of the day, together with other core enhancements. I am sure a PS4 Sony device will include the next generation Cell chip. If it does we are all in for a great ride. According to the current new Cell specs, it would be an awesome processor bringing true virtual reality to the home...

Q!

"aLL RoAdS LeAd ToO HoMe"

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Tatsujin
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 10:22:32 PM
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Nice, thanks for that last bit of info Ben, im so shocked :O, no really I am :)

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orangpelupa
Monday, June 09, 2008 @ 10:52:51 PM
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[quote]Toshiba, and the result is a machine that uses 13,000 of the PS3's Cell processors, with each one of the 8-core chips performing at speeds of 4GHz.[/quote]

hey, isnt PS3 use 7 core CELL @ 3.2GHz O_o
so its different cpu than ps3

and PS3 7 core CELL is fast too, but the RSX is too slow for gaming,
if only game devs can make game engine using RayTracing. PS3 will then show its true power, power of cell.

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danr
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 10:59:26 AM

The PS3 uses the only 7 of the 8 cores, and the clock speed can be changed easily enough. So its the same chip, just with a slightly different configuration.

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Akuma07
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 3:15:50 AM
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Cell will one day take over the world.
after defeating goku.

oh wait its not dbz =]

haha seriously for a second. i can see the cell replacing processors the likes of pentium and athalon.

maybe sony should release a PC "PC Station"


P.s yes i do think calling it Cell was the coolest idea ever.

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orangpelupa
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 12:39:27 PM
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@danr
if PS3 is PC, then yes the clock can be Overclocked to 4GHz, but.
PS3 is conosole and SONY "glued" the clock to 3.2GHz, and from 7 core, PS3 game can only access 6 Core :D

@paulno

actually ih i remember correctly, toshiba already have PCI Express Add-on card, that have CELL cpu in it.

it make Video rendering 2x faster than Intel Quad Core cpu.

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Klint
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 1:56:43 PM
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Throw Crysis on that thing and see if it'll run :0

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LCF
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 @ 9:09:56 PM
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Closer and closer to true A.I,Soon the games will be playing us hehe.

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AscientDire
Thursday, June 12, 2008 @ 3:02:11 PM
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Wow, that's approx. 1/10 human brain processing power...crazy!!

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