Virginia Tech's G5 Supercomputer Could Rank #2 In The World

The much-talked-about supercomputer that Virginia Tech is making from 1100 dual processor Power Mac G5s may be the second fastest super computer in the world. This comes to us in part through a very interesting article the BBC has published on Virginia Techis project, which has unofficially been dubbed "Big Mac," according to the BBC. The article says that the supercomputer cluster is capable of calculating 17.6 trillion floating point operations per second, or 17.6 Teraflops (TFlops), a ranking that puts it several TFlops above the current #2 ranked computer. From the BBC:

Supercomputers - everyone would love one but with a price tag of around $100 million each theyire not easy to come by. But in the United States staff and students at Virginia Tech have built one of the worldis most powerful Supercomputers for a cool 5 million dollars. Itis all to do with plugging together smaller machines. Ian Hardy went to Virginia to see the supermachine for himself.

This is the project that has caused heads to turn in the world of Supercomputing. It is, in fact, 1100 brand new Apple G5 towers placed side by side making it the worldis most powerful homebuilt system , capable of 17.6 trillion floating point operations per second, with a combined storage capacity of 176 terabytes.


Arguably Virginia Tech has revolutionized the world of Supercomputing with a simplistic setup that can be duplicated around the globe by other institutions.

Hassan Aref , Dean of Engineering: " Weire going to document how we did this from start to finish and if you want to build one weill send them a kit and tell them how to do it. "

While the BBC doesnit point out is potential placement, a look at the June 2003 list from shows the following:

Screen Shot from Top500.orgis June 2003 Listing

Thereis much more information on each of those systems at, but note that the #1 ranked system, NECis Earth Simulator, can push 35.86 TFlops, while the #2 LANL system at Los Alamos can push 13.88 TFlops. If verifies Virginia Techis Big Mac supercomputer at 17.6 TFlops, that could well qualify the system as the worldis new second fastest supercomputer. That said, we must stress that the numbers mentioned by the BBC are not numbers from, and have not at all been confirmed.

Thereis more information on Virginia Techis project in the full BBC article.

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