PS3’s cell chip powers yet another supercomputer

Back in 2007, IBM constructed the Blue Gene/P, at the time the world’s fastest supercomputer and powered by Sony Corp’s prestigious Broadband Cell Chip. Fast-forward one year, however, and the Blue Gene/P has been surpassed an even faster piece of kit, once again fuelled by the PS3’s cell chip.

This new powerhouse is known as the Roadrunner, and was designed for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. The estimated cost to build such a machine hovers around USD 100 million to build. Although powered by the Cell processor it isn’t done purely on the PS3 Chip; it has 6,948 dual-core AMD Opteron chips and 12,960 Cell engines powering it.

The Roadrunner clocks in at speeds surpassing a petaflop. For the unaware, that equates to roughly one quadrillion calculations per second, or one thousand trillion calculations per second.
What does that all mean? Well, let’s just say you will need close to 100,000 of today’s fastest laptops to equal the Roadrunner’s power. Interested in what the Department of Energy will be doing with this supercomputer? Check out the video below.