Virgina Tech’s faster ‘Big Mac’ System X supercomputer aims for top-ten world ranking

“Virginia Tech’s recently rebuilt Mac supercomputer has squeezed out a few more teraflops, but it probably won’t be able to keep its top-five world ranking. Released Tuesday, the 12.25-teraflops benchmark would put System X in fourth place in the world ratings, but it will probably be surpassed by new supercomputers from NASA, IBM and others,” Leander Kahney reports for Wired News. “The new top 500 list will be released in November at the SuperComputing 2004 conference in Pittsburgh. The Mac-based System X was rated the third-fastest machine on the planet last November.”

“Jack Dongarra, a computer science professor at University of Tennessee and one of the compilers of the top 500 list, said System X may fall even further. ‘It’s not clear it will be in the top 10 for the next list,’ he said,” Kahney reports. “System X is still the fastest academic supercomputer, but will likely get bumped into sixth or seventh position by bigger — and much more expensive — machines, Varadarajan said. ‘We expect to be in the top 10,’ said Varadarajan. ‘Where, we don’t know. Top five is not possible, probably. We really don’t know where we’ll show up. There’s always an October surprise. Last year, we were the October surprise. This year, it will probably be someone else. Every year, someone pops up.'”

Kahney reports, “Varadarajan said System X is still the cheapest supercomputer by a very large margin. Varadarajan said competing systems cost $20 million and up, compared to System X’s approximately $5.8 million price tag ($5.2 million for the initial machines, and $600,000 for the Xserve upgrade).”

Full article here.


  1. C/Net would say: “see I told you it’s just a toy!”.

    Any way you look at it is great for an academic institution! Any way you look at it Apple rocks, Windows sucks!

  2. Well if they wanted to really be in the top 5 they could just add more computer to the cluster, I’m sure they could buy a few Xserves for $10 – 15 million dollars and still be in the same price range as other machines ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. when will the Army’s Mach 5 be up and running? if i remember correctly – they were shooting for 20+ teraflops.

    that would put it in the top 5 now. could that be the october surprise? i haven’t heard much news on this lately.

  4. feeze,

    One supercomputer that will be faster than them by a long shot will be Mach 5, that simulates hypersonic flight of missiles for the U.S. Army. It’s also an XServe cluster. It very well could be in the top three at 25+ teraflops.

  5. I’m building one in the vacant cave under my house. When it’s finished, you will all fear the name THELONIUS MAC!

    BWA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

    Now. Where’s that Panther disk.

  6. “…For the sake of discussion, what does everything think would happen if the U.S. missile testing was done using Windows XP?…”

    I thought it was done using Iraq?

  7. Moot point but I think it was actually the Navy that bought the 1500+ Xserves for their supercomputer.

    But then again…I could be wrong; I’m not Thurrott after all. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  8. no, it was the Army. they were hoping to be running at @ 15 teraflops this fall, which would surpass System X. i it was a 1564 unit system – so about 3000+ nodes?

    i just have not heard any recent news. nothing since august at least.

  9. Duh. Never post first thing in the morning. I didn’t remember that System X was the name of the project, and thought that CNet was getting the name of OS X wrong. I guess no one cared enough to point out my stupidity.

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