Petascale computing

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Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility

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 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.

China has developed four petascale computers, Nebulae, Tianhe-I, Tianhe-2, and the Sunway TaihuLight.

Russia has developed the Lomonosov (rus) petascale computer.

Other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have plans of their own for petascale computers.

Petascale computers are under development from manufacturers such as Sun Microsystems, Cray, IBM, Dawning, SGI, and NEC.


As of 2017, 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.[1]
  • 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, 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
  • Piz Daint built by Cray
  • Cori built by Cray
  • IBM Mira
  • Cray Titan, an updated version of Jaguar.
  • Tianhe-2
  • Sunway TaihuLight
  • Advanced Supercomputer for Petascale Innovation, Research and Enterprise (ASPIRE 1), is the only petascale computer in Singapore.[2][3]

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
  • Nvidia DGX-2 a 2 Petaflop Machine Learning system
  • Astra, the first ARM-based supercomputer to enter the TOP500 list[4]

Under constructionEdit

Platform examplesEdit

Computing languagesEdit

The programming languages that have been used to achieve petascale computing include Fortran, C, C++, and Julia.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ National Center for Computational Sciences (NCCS) (2010). "World's Most Powerful Supercomputer for Science!". NCCS. Archived from the original on 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2010-06-26. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Schor, David (2018-08-25). "Cavium Takes ARM to Petascale with Astra". WikiChip Fuse. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Rob Farber (2017-11-08). "Julia Language Delivers Petascale HPC Performance". Stackhouse Publishing Inc. Retrieved 2018-10-07.

External linksEdit