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Supercomputers Are Still Fast, but Less Super

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A decade-long trend reached its inevitable conclusion this week when a supercomputer based on chips from Advanced Micro Devices became the fastest machine on the planet. The computer, called Jaguar, sits at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and can throw hundreds of thousands of processing engines at computing problems. The machine shows just how far chips based on architectures similar to those found in everyday PCs have come.

The supercomputing world was long dominated by systems that required specialized chips, memory systems and networking technology. But about 10 years ago, researchers realized they could link thousands of cheaper machines running on mainstream chips and achieve pretty solid performance. Today, the systems based on mainstream chips dominate the Top500 list of supercomputers that is released twice a year.

From The New York Times
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