Roadrunner supercomputer used to monitor nuclear stockpile retired

By on April 1, 2013, 11:00 AM

A supercomputer that was once the fastest in the world was shut down over the weekend. Known as Roadrunner, the system went online five years ago at the Los Alamos National Laboratory to monitor the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile.

Furthermore, the system – which consisted of 6,563 dual-core AMD Opteron processors with each core linked to a PowerXCell 8i graphics chip similar to the ones found in Sony’s PlayStation 3 – was the first hybrid supercomputer. The massive machine housed 278 server racks – each the side of a typical refrigerator.

The IBM supercomputer was the first to break the petaflop performance barrier and held a spot at the top of the TOP500 supercomputer site on three separate occasions. In addition to its nuclear monitoring duties, the powerhouse was used to simulate the Big Bang and even helped map the HIV genetic tree in an effort to help find a vaccine.

Even after five years of operation, it remains one of the world’s 30 fastest supercomputers but that’s just not good enough when it comes to overseeing a nuclear stockpile and running simulations for the Stockpile Stewardship Program.

The system will be dismantled in about a month but until then, researchers will be allowed to run experiments on the OS’ memory compression techniques to help build more efficient supercomputers in the future. Gary Grider from the Laboratory’s High Performance Computing Division said these are the types of things that they were never able to try while Roadrunner was performing daily tasks.




User Comments: 10

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Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

When saying "to monitor the United States? nuclear weapons stockpile." I first thought this was an April fool's joke.

But reading up I understand better what is meant, I would use the wording "Nuclear Testing System" myself, but maybe that's just because I don't speak English natively

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veLa veLa said:

It's shame that it's going offline. Even at its age it could still be used for any number of computing tasks that require that sort of hardware might.

Guest said:

"The system will be dismantled in about a month but until then, researchers will be allowed to run experiments on the OS' memory compression techniques to help build more efficient supercomputers in the future"

I guess it would be nice if they allow to some overclocker to run experiments breaking the record, or give it to hardcore-gamer to put it into the test running crysis at highest setting :D

JC713 JC713 said:

RIP Roadrunner.

Win7Dev said:

It's shame that it's going offline. Even at its age it could still be used for any number of computing tasks that require that sort of hardware might.

I'm sure there is already a new system that is going to take its place that may use parallel computing with GPUs to raise the performance by a factor of 10.

DarkDragon7 said:

I guess it would be nice if they allow to some overclocker to run experiments breaking the record, or give it to hardcore-gamer to put it into the test running crysis at highest setting :D

I really agree with you and especially I would like to see a test for Metro 2033

yRaz yRaz said:

It's shame that it's going offline. Even at its age it could still be used for any number of computing tasks that require that sort of hardware might.

while that's true, these things use so much power that it gets cheaper to upgrade to more efficient hardware very quickly.

ikesmasher said:

I know...but to dismantle it? im sure some private billionare buyer somewhere in the world would love that thing. If I had the money, I would gladly buy that, as im sure many of you would.

PinothyJ said:

I know...but to dismantle it? im sure some private billionare buyer somewhere in the world would love that thing. If I had the money, I would gladly buy that, as im sure many of you would.

Except you cannot do anything on it...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

It's about time they retired it. Commissioned in 2009 means that it stretches back to the stone age. If they waited any longer the next generation of cell phones would have outperformed it such is the advances in computer hardware.

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