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KNOXVILLE — An East Tennessee supercomputer is the world’s second most powerful, according to a list released today by a group of scientists including University of Tennessee distinguished professor Jack Dongarra.

The “Top500 List,” published every six months by UT’s Dongarra along with colleagues at the University of Mannheim and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), was announced today at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Cray XT3/XT4 computer, known as Jaguar, rose from 13th place last year to the second spot on the latest list, thanks to a major upgrade in recent months. Jaguar clocked in a performance of 101.7 teraflops. Each teraflop represents one trillion calculations per second.

Jaguar is the most powerful unclassified computer in the world, and is second overall only to the IBM BlueGene computer at LBNL, which is used for classified research.

The computers are ranked based on their performance using the Linpack benchmark program, which was written by Dongarra. The program solves a dense system of mathematical equations, putting the computer through its paces to determine how quickly it performs.

This list of the world’s 500 most powerful computers had an unprecedented amount of turnover as a result of a massive increase in computational power, according to Dongarra. The slowest computer on the new list would have ranked in the middle of the list just six months ago.

“In the 15 years of the Top500, this kind of overall jump in computational performance has not been seen,” said Dongarra, who heads UT’s Innovative Computing Laboratory. “It reflects the fact that more and more researchers are turning to high-performance computing as a method to address pressing scientific questions.”

The jump of ORNL’s Jaguar computer is the result of an upgrade that took place earlier this year that doubled the number of processors in the machine. By the end of the year, further upgrades are expected to bring Jaguar to 250 teraflops.

The UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS), recently completed on the campus of ORNL, provides a facility to combine the academic and theoretical expertise of UT researchers with ORNL’s massive computer infrastructure.

Users from around the country use Jaguar and other ORNL computers to address some of the most pressing questions facing science today. Among areas being studied are catalytic processes critical to alternative energy, global weather and climate modeling, and complex astrophysics.

ORNL’s Cray X1E computer, known as Phoenix, also made the Top500 list at number 57.

About the UT-Oak Ridge Partnership:

The UT-Oak Ridge partnership represents a vast cooperative research effort, embodied in four new joint institutes. JICS, which is also the first state-owned building ever placed at a national laboratory; the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Biological Sciences, now under construction at ORNL; the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, a $45 million facility to be built on the UT campus; and the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences, to be built at ORNL.

In addition to this extensive research partnership, UT also manages ORNL through its partnership with Battelle Memorial Institute.


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