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Kraken supercomputer
Kraken supercomputer

KNOXVILLE – East Tennessee is now home to two of the world’s three fastest computers, according to new rankings released today.

The Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers places University of Tennessee supercomputer Kraken in third place, where it also holds the title of world’s fastest academic supercomputer, while Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jaguar computer took first place overall.

“This is just the latest in a series of successes for the University of Tennessee as it progresses toward achieving world-class research status,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “The combined resources of UT and its partners in Oak Ridge are positioning Tennessee as a global epicenter for supercomputing. I’m very proud of the state’s role in supporting UT’s drive to compete and succeed in this very select arena.”

Kraken, the result of a $65 million grant to UT from the National Science Foundation, recently became only the fourth computer in history to perform more than 1,000 trillion calculations per second, known as a petaflop.

“Winning a $65 million NSF award put the University of Tennessee among the supercomputing elite, and now we have reached the pinnacle in having the world’s fastest academic supercomputer,” said Jan Simek, interim UT president. “This is a phenomenal achievement and is among growing distinctions that enable us to continue attracting the best faculty and the best students we have ever had, and to make our university the best it has ever been.”

The twice-yearly Top500 is published by Jack Dongarra, a UT Knoxville distinguished professor of computer science and the director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory along with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Mannheim.

Since its creation in 2007, Kraken has been used for nearly 300 scientific projects addressing vital questions in areas from climate and weather modeling to applications in genetics and medicine.

“The beauty of Kraken is not just its computing power, but its problem-solving power,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Scientists from universities around the country, including many here at UT Knoxville, have put Kraken to use to attack humanity’s most pressing problems. It is an invaluable resource to this university to be home to such a powerful asset.”

With the combined computing power of UT and ORNL, East Tennessee is now firmly ensconced as a center for supercomputing activities, a fact which is continuing to draw even more resources to the area.

“Kraken is the result of a powerful and expanding partnership between the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance the frontier of scientific discovery and innovation from climate change to energy technologies and from basic to applied sciences,” said Thomas Zacharia, deputy director for science and technology at ORNL and a UT Knoxville professor.

“When NSF made the award to UT Knoxville to develop Kraken just over a year ago I said that ‘like the gargantuan sea monster Kraken, which inspired the naming of this supercomputer, the possibilities in scientific and engineering advances it enables are enormous, limited only by the confines of human imagination and vision beyond the frontiers of science,'” said NSF Director Arden L. Bement. “Today, Kraken is working to realize that vision. Consistent with ORNL’s leadership in building what many would consider to be one of the most diverse and valuable computation centers in the world, Kraken will address some of the most complex problems of our era.”

In October, the NSF awarded UT Knoxville an additional $10 million grant to create a new computer called Nautilus designed to help analyze and process the complex data created by massive computers like Kraken and Jaguar. Nautilus and its accompanying research center will be part of UT’s National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS), which also manages Kraken.

Both Kraken and Jaguar are Cray XT5 supercomputers. Kraken alone has 100,000 processors that work simultaneously to produce the high speeds at which the computer is capable to address major scientific questions.

Jaguar clocked in at a sustained speed of 1.759 petaflops, while Kraken registered 831 teraflops.

In the most recent version of the list, Kraken ranked sixth while Jaguar was in second place. In addition to Kraken and Jaguar, East Tennessee also is home to two more machines ranked in the world’s top 30, with ORNL’s original Jaguar Cray XT4 system at 16th and UT’s Athena in 30th.

C O N T A C T :

Jay Mayfield, UT Knoxville, (865-974-9409,

Lisa-Joy Zgorski, NSF, (202-292-8311,