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[Colloquium] Roadrunner: A Petaflop/s before its time

September 26, 2008

Watch Colloquium: 

Quicktime file (773 Megs)
AVI file (529 Megs)


  • Date: Friday, September 26th, 2008 
  • Time: 2 pm — 3:15 pm 
  • Place: ME 218

Ken Koch
Technical Project Leader for Roadrunner LANL 
LANL, CCS-DO 

Abstract: The Roadrunner supercomputer was built by IBM for Los Alamos National Laboratory for the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program. Roadrunner achieved 1.026 Petaflop/s running the TOP500 Linpack benchmark on May 26th, 2008 breaking the Petaflop/s barrier sooner than the TOP500 data would have predicted. Los Alamos conceived Roadrunner as a way to enable faster, more energy-efficient, and lower-cost computing through the use of acceleration devices in a hybrid computing design, in this case the Cell micro-processor as accelerator to an AMD Opteron. Many believe that the multi-core and many-core future of micro-processors will include the use of a non-uniform mix of devices and/or cores, some of which will have special functionality. Roadrunner is also a platform to prepare for that trend.

This talk on Roadrunner will provide the configuration details of this hybrid Cell-accelerated supercomputer and how it works. It will introduce the modified Cell processor and the hybrid TriBlade compute node developed for Roadrunner. The talk will also cover our applications experiences and the programming approach taken by early applications converted by Los Alamos staff to run on the accelerated Roadrunner machine; two of these applications are finalists for this year’s Gordon Bell award at SC08.

Bio: Kenneth Koch has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1985 in the fields of nuclear weapons simulation and high -performance computing. He helped create the ASCI (now ASC) Program and served as the program manager of all ASC simulation codes at Los Alamos for several years. Since 2004 Ken has been involved in high-performance computing in the Computer , Computational, and Statistical Science Division (CCS) at LANL. He has led efforts in advanced computer architectures including one using FPGAs and GPUs for scientific computing. He was the main LANL architect behind the design and implementation of the Roadrunner Cell-accelerated hybrid supercomputer. Ken received a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and also holds a Masters degree plus two Bachelors degrees in Nuclear and Mechanical Engineering, also from Purdue.