The U.S. Department of Energys new Roadrunner machine has basically blown the doors off the Top 500 ratings, touting speeds of more than a Petaflop (over 1,000 teraflops, or one thousand trillion calculations per second).
Contrast this with the previous No. 1 system, the IBM BlueGene/L at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which is capable of 478.2 Tflops.
BlueGene/L had topped the list since November 2004, but Los Alamoss Roadrunner now offers more than double the performance of its predecessor.
The Roadrunner system is a bit of an anomaly, says Jim Kasdorf, director of special projects at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, explaining that Roadrunners phenomenal speed comes at a price. Its a very difficult system to program - you have to be a hero to make all these pieces work together.