The Titan supercomputer is being decommissioned: a costly, time-consuming project

The old gives way to new at Oak Ridge National Labs. The Titan supercomputer is being replaced by Frontier, and it's a super-sized task.

Titan supercomputer
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

A supercomputer deployed in 2012 is going into retirement after seven years of hard work, but the task of decommissioning it is not trivial.

The Cray XK7 “Titan” supercomputer at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is scheduled to be decommissioned on August 1 and disassembled for recycling.

At 27 petaflops, or 27 quadrillion calculations per second, Titan was at one point the fastest supercomputer in the world at its debut in 2012 and remained in the top 10 worldwide until June 2019.

But time marches on. This beast is positively ancient by computing standards. It uses 16-core AMD Opteron CPUs and Nvidia Kepler generation processors. You can buy a gaming PC with better than that today.

“Titan has run its course,” Operations Manager Stephen McNally at ORNL said in an article published by ONRL. “The reality is, in electronic years, Titan is ancient. Think of what a cell phone was like seven years ago compared to the cell phones available today. Technology advances rapidly, including supercomputers.”

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