Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate


Jaguar Delivers Breakthrough Science

September 3, 2010

In November 2009, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) Cray XT5 supercomputer dubbed “Jaguar” scaled the summit of the bi-annual Top500 list, where is has since remained.

Reaching a calculation speed of 2.66 petaflops—2.66 thousand trillion calculations per second—Jaguar became the fastest supercomputer in the world. Jaguar is capable of simulating physical systems to study topics from the explosions of stars to the building blocks of matter.

At the beginning of 2009, the OLCF ushered in a new era of scientific supercomputing by inviting 28 leading research teams from around the world to participate in a six-month program of early petascale science. Using more than 355 million combined processor hours on the XT5 component of Jaguar, these research teams delivered breakthrough scientific discoveries in climate science, chemistry, materials science, nuclear energy, physics, bioenergy, astrophysics, geosciences, fusion, and combustion. The research included climate models at unprecedented resolutions, calculations of the flux of uranium into the Columbia River from aging underground storage facilities, and in-depth studies about impediments to producing bioethanol from plant material.

The results from these early petascale projects assured OLCF leaders that Jaguar was primed for use by research teams from around the globe, beginning to award computational hours on Jaguar through the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program ( In 2009, Jaguar hosted research for the winner of the Gordon Bell Prize for excellence in supercomputing applications. Four of the six finalists for this year’s prize also conducted their research on Jaguar.

In 2010 and beyond, OLCF is poised to continue leading the world in computationally intensive research. With funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, each of the quad-core processors in the XT5 component has been upgraded to six cores, bringing the total number of compute cores in the XT5 component to 224,526 ( The resulting upgrade elevated Jaguar’s top speed to the current 2.66 petaflop figure.