Oak Ridge Jaguar Supercomputer Going to About 2.7 Petaflops by Yearend

New six-core “Istanbul” processors from AMD are expected to arrive later this summer and will rev up Jaguar’s peak processing capability to “well over 2 petaflops.” That’s more than 2,000 trillion mathematical calculations per second.

The switch from quadcore processing to six-core processors will results in about a 70 percent performance gain and also enhance the memory applications. So the 1.6 petaflop peak processing of Jaguar should go to 2.7 petaflops peak.

Separately, the University of Tennessee’s “Kraken,” which is housed at ORNL and funded by the National Science Foundation, is also being upgraded with new six-core processors and will join Jaguar as a member of the exclusive petaflops club — capable of more than 1,000 trillion calculations per second. The Kraken supercomputer currently runs at 600 teraflops.

AMD says it will release Istanbul in June 2009, and believes Istanbul will keep them in the competitive running against Intel over the next year. The company believes that a proposed 12-core processor, code-named Magny-Cours, in 2010 will give them a major advantage.

And that may be why Advanced Micro Devices Inc. said this week that it is releasing its six-core Opteron chip in June, well ahead of schedule, and plans to follow it early next year with a chip code-named Magny-Cours that will ship in eight- and 12-core models. After that, it plans a 16-core chip in 2011.

If there was a 2010 chip refresh on the Jaguar supercomputer then it could go 5 petaflops of peak performance and a 2011 chip refresh could provide 7 petaflops.

Pricing of top of the link AMD Opteron chips are about $1000. So 50,000 to 200,000 top of the line chips would be $50 million to $200 million for ballpark of hardware costs for a petaflop supercomputer refresh upgrade.