AMD claims spots in top supercomputers

The new Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers is now out. Who came out on top this month? AMD believes it did, and it has a pretty strong case.

Jaguar, a Cray XT5 system situated the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has become the world's number-one supercomputer thanks to an upgrade from quad- to six-core Opteron processors. The machine has theoretical peak performance of 2.3 petaFLOPS, and it scores 1.75 petaFLOPS in the Linpack benchmark. (petaFLOPS refers to 1015 floating point operations per second, by the way.)

Jaguar may be impressive in its own right, but AMD also has a presence in all but one of the list's top-five supercomputers. Roadrunner, the silver medalist, combines Opteron and Cell processors. Kraken, a Cray XT5 machine that came in third place, also includes six-core Opterons. And Tianhe-1, which sits in fifth place, pairs up Intel Xeon E5540 and E5450 microprocessors with Radeon HD 4870 graphics processors from AMD.

Neither Intel nor AMD get credit for the fourth-place contestant, JUGENE, a proprietary IBM system endowed with 850MHz PowerPC 450 processors.

AMD's strong presence in the top supercomputer space is noteworthy considering how even its six-core Opterons don't always keep up with Intel's latest and greatest Xeons. AMD may lose ground when Intel starts rolling out those eight-core Nehalem-EX processors, although eight- and 12-core Opteron 6100-series CPUs are on AMD's roadmap for the first quarter of next year.

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