System X

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(Redirected from Big Mac (supercomputer))
System X (telephony) is also the name of a telephone switching platform from Marconi plc

System X is a supercomputer assembled by Virginia Tech in the summer of 2003, comprising 1,100 Apple PowerMac G5 computers. System X is currently running at 12.25 Teraflops, making it the second fastest supercomputer at any academic institution in the world. The fastest is now the MareNostrum.

The supercomputer's name (pronounced "System Ten") originates from the use of the Mac OS X operating system for each node, and because it was the first university computer to achieve 10 teraflops on the high performance LINPACK benchmark. The supercomputer is also known as "Big Mac" or Terascale Cluster due to its speed. On November 16, 2003, it was ranked by the TOP500 list as the third-fastest supercomputer in the world. It is touted as "the world’s most powerful and cheapest homebuilt supercomputer." [1] (http://www.eng.vt.edu/tcf/faq.html)

System X was constructed with a relatively low budget of just $5.2 million, in the span of only three months, gained in large part because it used off-the-shelf G5 computers with dual-2.0 GHz processors. (By comparison, the fastest contemporary supercomputer, Earth Simulator, cost approximately $400 million to build.)

In 2004, Virginia Tech upgraded its computer to Apple's newly-released Xserve G5 servers; the upgraded version was #7 in the 2004 TOP500 list, and cost one-fifth as much as the second least-expensive system in the top ten. System X will be followed by System L (50 teraflops) and System C (100 teraflops.)

In October of 2004, Virginia Tech partially rebuilt System X at a cost of about $600,000. These improvements brought the computer's speed up to 12.25 Teraflops.

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