DoE supercomputer clocked as world's fastest

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Engineers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory can breathe a sigh of relief: their new Titan supercomputer has, as expected, been certified as the fastest in the world.

Last month, Titan came online, replacing ONRL's XT5 Jaguar - ranked as the world's fastest computer on the Top500 lists in November 2009 and June 2010.

"The new Top500 list clearly demonstrates the US' commitment to applying high-performance computing to breakthrough science, and that's our focus at Oak Ridge," says ORNL Director Thom Mason.

"We'll deliver science from Day One with Titan, and I look forward to the advancements the Titan team will make in areas such as materials research, nuclear energy, combustion and climate science."

Titan is a Cray XK7 system that contains 18,688 nodes, each built from a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an NVIDIA Tesla K20X GPU accelerator. It has 710 terabytes of memory.

Its hybrid architecture, combining traditional CPUs with graphic processing units (GPUs) - is seen as a step toward exascale computing - generating 1,000 quadrillion calculations per second using 20 megawatts of electricity or less.

Titan reached a speed of 17.59 petaflops on the Top500's Linpack benchmark test. It's got a theoretical peak speed of 27 quadrillion calculations per second - 27 petaflops - while using approximately nine megawatts of electricity, around the amount required for 9,000 homes.

That makes it 10 times faster than Jaguar, with only a 20 percent increase in electrical power consumption, thanks to the use of GPUs.

"The order of magnitude performance increase of Titan over Jaguar will allow US scientists and industry to address problems they could only dream of tackling before," says Buddy Bland, Titan project manager at DOE's Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility.