Built by IBM for the NNSA and housed at its Los Alamos National Laboratory, the petaflop-smashing system gets its world-leading power from 12,240 IBM PowerXCell 8i Cell Broadband Engine(TM) processors - derived from chips that power today's most popular videogame consoles. 6,562 AMD Opteron Dual-Core processors perform basic compute functions, freeing the IBM PowerXCell 8i chips for the math-intensive calculations that are their specialty.
This "hybrid" architecture, which optimizes the strength of multiple types of processors, is an IBM hallmark. The design is analogous to that of a hybrid car with similar benefits. For example, if the NNSA supercomputer were built with standard x86 chips alone, the system would have been significantly larger and would have required much more power.