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IBM Supercomputing

First Petaflop Supercomputer To Shut Down 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-farewell-auf-weidersehen-goodbye dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2008 Roadrunner was the world's fastest supercomputer. Now that the first system to break the petaflop barrier has lost a step on today's leaders it will be shut down and dismantled. In its five years of operation, the Roadrunner was the 'workhorse' behind the National Nuclear Security Administration's Advanced Simulation and Computing program, providing key computer simulations for the Stockpile Stewardship Program."
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First Petaflop Supercomputer To Shut Down

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:05PM (#43328177)

    RR must've spent too much time pecking on that Acme birdseed.

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:13PM (#43328199)

    it's be interesting to see if this thing goes for scrap value, or if someone else'll pick it up for service elsewhere...

    • by Dishwasha (125561)

      Keep an eye on Ebay for parts.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:04PM (#43328385) Journal

      It used a combo of cell CPUs and AMD Opterons [cnet.com] so if they want to recoup some of the cost i doubt selling those chips would be hard.

      Of course this is one more reason i don't like the "game console" way the industry is being pushed, with Intel talking about soldering boards to chips and companies pushing more "black box" computing because if it were not for bog standard yet powerful COTS parts things like Roadrunner would be either impossible or insanely expensive. Yet to hear the industry pundits tell it all we need is a tablet and an iPhone...sheesh. Give me a system I can upgrade any day of the week, the laptops and tablet are fine for service calls or as PMPs but they will always be more about style and battery life than performance.

      • Which OS was it using? Linux? AIX? Something else?
      • I was relatively late to the build your own PC craze, I built my first one in 1995 after about 8 years of being a Mac owner.

        But since that time I have found relatively little worthwhile "upgradability" in my systems. I do remember adding a 3DFX card to my Pentium-166 system and replacing a couple of video cards (in the last 2-3 years) whose fans have quit.

        When I built systems I tried to get the best bang for my buck out of my CPU, buying just high enough in the product lineup that my parts were "better" bu

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Then no offense but "Ur doing it wrong" because I have been able to upgrade every system i have built and extended its useful lifespan. For examples I stayed with LGA775 when it was obvious it was gonna have a long life, then I heard about Intel rigging the market so i switched to the AM sockets which turned out to have an even longer life than LGA775. The machine I'm typing on went from an Athlon dual to a Phenom II quad to now an AMD Hexacore, triple the power of the original chip, went from 2GB to 8GB o

          • by swb (14022)

            I'm not arguing the dangers of planned-obsolescence/DRM/black box computing at all (despite the two iPads and 3 iPhones we have here) at all.

            I still build my own PCs, but for a whole bunch of reasons I kind of leave them as built anymore.

            I'm fine with my existing two year old Core i5 system -- but I kind of threw some money at it when I built it and it's paid off -- SSD boot disk, 2 TB Raid1 storage, 16 GB RAM.

            When I'm done, my young son gets them and by then he's thrilled. He's just about to get a slight

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              But that's not the fault of having the ABILITY to upgrade, its simply that software hasn't kept up with hardware, that's all. my youngest is gaming on an Athlon triple that was originally built as a spare, just a system to have in the closet if one of the family suffered a broken system because I got tired of hearing "How long is it gonna take" but when my hand me down Phenom II quad had a memory stick go tits up (and naturally the Phenom II had DDR 2 and the Athlon DDR 3 so i couldn't just snatch the stick

              • by swb (14022)

                I think the environmental thing is going to bite the planned obsolescence business strategy in the ass ultimately.

                I think environmental regulations on hazardous materials, manufacturers being forced to take back and recycle old products, and possibly even cost of materials will make it harder and harder to release intentionally obsoleted gadgets.

                Some of this cost can be passed on to end users, but much of it can't be and I've read editorial content from environmental advocates that even suggests that device

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  I think we'll just keep on poisoning the third world sadly. Ever see a video of the place where most of our PCs end up? Its this little cesspool in Bumfuck Africa where the sky is black from the burning motherboards as the peasants try to get enough metals out of them to survive another week, its really sad and pathetic and the ones "working" there will probably be dead of cancer or heavy metal poisoning by the time they are 30.

                  We could go into the "why" it has happened, I would argue what we are seeing is

    • Sold to China would be my guess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:14PM (#43328205)

    "Sound barrier" was and remains OK because there is a physical difference between flying slower than and faster than the speed of sound. But the word "barrier" is now (over)used to make things sound more dramatic. Raising a number from below to above some arbitrary (usually number base-dependent) threshold does not imply crossing a barrier, unless by barrier is meant "barrier to entry of another over-hyped tech piece".

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I just hope nobody breaks my ass-cherry barrier!
    • Milestone (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also, they should use a proper car analogy and use "Milestone".
    • Whenever there is a story on supercomputers on /., there will be a comment stating that there was no barrier whatsoever. But that's not quite true.

      The truth is that the performance of supercomputers grows that fast because engineers continuously solve problems, which were deemed intractable before (e.g. power consumption, reliability, network performance). The research may not be groundbreaking in the sense of earth-shattering, but definitely in the sense of "wow, I didn't think one could do that!"

  • Aw, crap! (Score:5, Funny)

    by theoriginalturtle (248717) <turtle@weightle s s dog.com> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:18PM (#43328219) Homepage

    I think that thing could host a kick-ass DOOM session!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I worked on Roadrunner. It was a pain to program, but I'm sorry to see it go. The Cell processor was ahead of its time...

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@ovi. c o m> on Sunday March 31, 2013 @10:50PM (#43328323) Homepage

    At today's prices, I'd have it farming Bitcoins.

  • by Tablizer (95088)

    you have "flop" in the name

  • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:17PM (#43328439) Journal

    I guess it's not new and shiny anymore, so we can just throw it away.

    I did want to read the actual article, but the only link is to a 2008 article.

    Fail or what?

    http://news.sky.com/story/1071902/supercomputer-pioneer-roadrunner-to-shut-down [sky.com]

    That is the article. And i see why they are getting rid of it, not as power efficient as new computers.

    • what I've found odd in respect of power/cycle efficiency is that it doesn't seem to be going anywhere except in portable gear.

      Example: I'm typing on a dual core AMD laptop (E350 die) which is entirely powered by a 50 Watt power brick. That does the processor, board, optical drive, two hard drives, a bank of 7 flash drives on a bus-powered hub, and a 15.3" widescreen panel. THE SAME HARDWARE on a mini-ITX form factor, *requires* a 200W PSU just for the board.

      How does that work??

      • by Nemyst (1383049) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:55PM (#43328567) Homepage
        The manufacturers give themselves a lot of headroom. The last thing they want is for you to start whining at them because the PSU you've bought isn't powerful enough.

        Keep in mind that unlike laptops, the motherboard manufacturer's got no idea of what you'll be pairing the board with. A low-end, cheap PSU at terrible efficiency may be "rated" at 200W but only give out 100W before crapping out. They also give themselves headroom for people who think the motherboard's rated power requirements also include everything else (ie. RAM, CPU, hard drives, etc.).

        Actual power usage is far, far below the recommended power output. My computer's sitting idle at a little above 200W, and that's an i5-2500K overclocked with 16GB of RAM, two Radeon HD6950 2GB GPUs, two 7500RPM 3.5" HDDs plus a Vertex 3 SSD, an optical drive, a mouse, a mechanical keyboard requiring double USB ports, a phone recharging, an external eSATA HDD, all running on a full ATX motherboard geared towards power and not efficiency. Oh, and the reading includes two 23" IPS screens with non-LED backlighting (so much more power hungry).

        If I remember well, full load (prime95 torture test and furmark running at the same time) topped at around 550W, again with a bunch of peripherals plugged in, a 1GHz overclock above normal, and 2 screens counted in the total. I'd say that that kind of power is very much in line with your laptop, considering just how ridiculously more powerful it is.
    • by friedmud (512466) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @11:31PM (#43328493)

      It costs a _lot_ to keep these computers running (read Millions with a really big M). The power bill alone is an enormous amount of money.

      It literally gets to the point where it is cheaper to tear it down and build a new one that is better in flops / Watt than to keep the current one running.

  • How do i buy the now "surplus" parts?
  • Bitcoin server

  • How many FLOPs has it flipped over its career?

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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