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In computing, petascale refers to a computer system capable of reaching performance in excess of one petaflops, i.e. one quadrillion floating point operations per second. The standard benchmark tool is LINPACK and Top500.org is the organization which tracks the fastest supercomputers. Some uniquely specialized petascale computers do not rank on the Top500 list since they cannot run LINPACK. This makes comparisons to ordinary supercomputers hard.
Petascale can also refer to very large storage systems where the capacity exceeds one petabyte (PB).
Petascale computing is being used to do advanced computations in fields such as weather and climate simulation, nuclear simulations, cosmology, quantum chemistry, lower-level organism brain simulation, and fusion science.
The National Science Foundation is responsible for initiating and funding several petascale computers in the United States, as well as DARPA who gave IBM the contract to develop the petascale PERCS (Productive, Easy-to-use, Reliable Computer System) platform.
Other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have plans of their own for petascale computers.
As of 2012, these are the known active petascale computers in the world.
- Roadrunner, built by IBM, was the first computer to go petascale, and did so on May 25, 2008, with sustained performance of 1.026 petaflops.
- XT5 "Jaguar", built by Cray, was the second, later in 2008. After an update in 2009, its performance reached 1.759 petaflops.
- SGI Pleiades which went online in 2008 with a performance of 600 TFLOPS, reached petascale in 2012.
- Nebulae built by Dawning, was the third petascale computer and the first built by China with a performance of 1.271 petaflops in 2010.
- Tianhe-1A built by NUDT, at 2.566 petaflops in 2010.
- K computer built by Fujitsu, is the second fastest supercomputer in the world, at 8.162 petaflops in 2011.
- Tsubame built by NEC/HP
- Cielo built by Cray
- Hopper built by Cray
- Tera 100 built by Bull SA
- IBM Sequoia
- Cray Titan, an updated version of Jaguar.
The first 20 supercomputers on the June 2012 list are petascale.
- RIKEN MDGRAPE-3 in Japan which went online in 2006 reaches petascale performance but can't run LINPACK, so comparisons to regular supercomputers are hard.
- Blue Waters in Illinois
- JUGENE, an upgraded Blue Gene/P system at Jülich Research Centre in Germany, operational in mid 2009.
- National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) (2010). "World's Most Powerful Supercomputer for Science!". NCCS. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
- IBM Press Release (2009-02-10). "New IBM Petaflop Supercomputer at German Forschungszentrum Juelich to Be Europe's Most Powerful". IBM Inc. Retrieved 2010-06-26.