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Petascale computing refers to computing systems capable of calculating at least 1015 floating point operations per second (1 petaFLOPS). Petascale computing allowed faster processing of traditional supercomputer applications. The first system to reach this milestone was the IBM Roadrunner in 2008. Petascale supercomputers are planned to be succeeded by exascale computers.
Floating point operations per second (FLOPS) are a measure of computer performance. FLOPS can be recorded in different measures of precision, however the standard measure used by the TOP500 supercomputer list ranks computers by 64 bit (double-precision floating-point format) operations per second using the LINPACK benchmark.
The petaFLOPS barrier was first broken on 16 September 2007 by the distributed computing Folding@home project. The first single petascale system, the Roadrunner, entered operation in 2008. The Roadrunner, built by IBM, had a sustained performance of 1.026 petaFLOPS. The Jaguar became the second computer to break the petaFLOPS milestone, later in 2008, and reached a performance of 1.759 petaFLOPS after a 2009 update.
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