Oak Ridge National Laboratory - High Performance Computing

High Performance Computing

Throughout the history of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory it has been the site of various supercomputers, home to the fastest on four occasions. In the 1953 ORNL partnered with the Argonne National Laboratory to build ORACLE (Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine), a computer to research nuclear physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. ORACLE had 2048 words (80 KiB) of memory and took approximately 590 microseconds to perform addition or multiplications of integers. In 1995 ORNL bought an Intel Paragon based computer called the Intel Paragon XP/S 150 that performed at 150 gigaFLOPS. In 2005 Jaguar was built, a Cray XT3 based system that performed at 25 teraFLOPS and received incremental upgrades up to XT5 nodes that performed at 2.3 petaFLOPS in that was recognised as the world's fastest in November 2009. In 2012 Jaguar was upgraded to XT7 nodes, a fundamental change as GPUs are used for the majority of processing, and renamed Titan. Titan performs at 17.59 petaFLOPS holds the number 1 spot on the TOP500 list as of November 2012.

In 1989 programmers at the Oak Ridge National Lab wrote the first version of Parallel Virtual Machine (PVM), software that enables distributed computing on machines of differing specifications. PVM is free software and has become the de facto standard for distributed computing. Jack Dongarra of ORNL and the University of Tennessee wrote the LINPACK software library and LINPACK benchmarks, used to calculate linear algebra and the standard method of measuring floating point performance of a supercomputer as used by the Top500 organisation.

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