SC09 conference is being held for the past 22 years, with this year’s exhibition taking place in Portland, Oregon. As usual with HPC conferences, a list of Top500 supercomputers is published with thousands of supercomputing experts awaiting "the list".

For November 2009, there are several major changes on the list. Jaguar took the top spot with 1.76 PetaFLOPS Rmax and 2.33 PFLOPS in peak computational power [Rpeak]. This machine is the first system to pass the 2PFLOPS barrier, only a year after the world saw the first PFLOPS system. The world’s first 1PFLOPS machine was Roadrunner from Los Alamos National Laboratories [LANL], who dropped to second place with 1.04 Rmax / 1.37 Rpeak PFLOPS, down by 35 GFLOPS as Roadrunner is also having upgrades taking place [Roadrunner is still based on AMD’s 1st Gen Opteron Dual-cores at 1.8 GHz].

Cray XT5-HE is the base for Jaguar, world's most powerful system
Jaguar is based on Cray XT5-HE clusters powered by AMD processors

But the crown belongs to Jaguar, who went a processor drop-in upgrade from AMD’s Barcelona quad-core at 2.3 GHz to a 2.6 GHz sexa-core Shanghai. The result was a boost from 1.06 PFLOPS to massive 1.76 PFLOPS, a massive 70% gain. Jaguar was upgraded from 150,152 cores [37,538 CPUs] to 224,162 cores [37,360 CPUs].

Top500 Supercomputer list - November 2009
Top500 Supercomputer list – November 2009

But Jaguar is just a start of potential dominance by Oak Ridge National Labs. Back at nVidia’s GPU Technology Conference 2009, we learned that nVidia won the contract to build a supercomputer "10 times more powerful than Jaguar." It wasn’t explained they were referring to Jaguar prior to this sexa-core upgrade or not but in any case, you’re looking at 10-17 sustained PFLOPS [Rmax], i.e. 14-23 PFLOPS peak [Rpeak]. The completion of world’s next most powerful supercomputer is expected in 2011.

16,488 Shanghai-based Opterons took the third spot in a form of Kraken XT5 system over at University of Tennessee. Kraken scored 831.7 sustained TFLOPS, peaking at 1.03 PFLOPS. Given that both Jaguar, Roadrunner and Kraken are based on AMD Opteron processors, this is the first time in history that AMD takes the top 3 spots.
Perhaps the most interesting computer in the Top 5 is Milky Way One i.e. Tianhe-1, as this is the first supercomputer in Top 10 that utilizes several thousand ATI Radeon HD 4870X2 graphics cards.