From Cray’s first design to China’s world-beating Tianhe-2
Seymour Cray finds his way posthumously back into our list with Titan, produced by his own company’s successor, Cray Research.
Number two in the Top500 list only to the previously mentioned Tianhe-2, boasts a whopping memory of 710TB, and was built at the US government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee.
Ten times as powerful as the Jaguar model it was based on, the Titan contains almost 19,000 processing nodes, each of which contains a GPU (graphics processing unit) accelerator designed for video gaming, which consume far less power while producing more processing power.
What’s it used for?
Lately it’s simulated the behaviour of 140,000 atoms in E.coli cells, discovering that an amino acid known as Phe396 may be the key to stopping disease-causing cells making people sick. Not bad.
Blue Gene/L (2007)
IBM’s BlueGene project is aimed at designing supercomputers with low power usage, leading to the design of some of the most power efficient supercomputers in history.
Its 2007 model, Blue Gene/L, had more than 100,000 compute nodes and a top performance of 600 Teraflops. But it is perhaps more deserving of its place on the list thanks to its designers’ innovative use of low-power cores instead of fast, power-sapping chips
73,728 GB memory
What was it used for?
Blue Gene supercomputers have been used to model climate change effects on flooding risks, crop yields, rainforests and renewable energy.