Top 500 supercomputers: Welcome to the petaflop generation

Roadrunner is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the Top500

Welcome to the petaflop generation. That was the message as the new most powerful supercomputer in the world IBM's $100,000 million Roadrunner system installed at the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory was officially named the most powerful and energy efficient supercomputer in the world.

The Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers was unveiled at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden and proclaimed that Roadrunner achieved performance of 1.026 petaflop/s-becoming the first supercomputer ever to reach that performance milestone. At the same time, Roadrunner is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the Top500.

Rounding out the top five positions, all of which are in the US are the new IBM BlueGene/P (450.3 teraflop/s) at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory, the new Sun SunBlade x6420 "Ranger" system (326 teraflop/s) at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas - Austin, and the upgraded Cray XT4 "Jaguar" (205 teraflop/s) at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The No. 6 system is the top system outside the US, installed in Germany at the Forschungszentrum Juelich. It is an IBM BlueGene/P system and was measured at 180 Tflop/s. The No. 7 system is installed at a new center, the New Mexico Computing Applications Center in Rio Rancho, NM. It is built by SGI and based on the Altix ICE 8200 model. It was measured at 133.2 Tflop/s. The Computational Research Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons in India, installed a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system. They integrated this system with their own routing technology and achieved a performance of 132.8 Tflop/s which was sufficient for No. 8, the survey noted. The No. 9 system is a new BlueGene/P system installed at the Institut du Developpement et des Ressources en Informatique Scientifique (IDRIS) in France, which was measured at 112.5 Tflop/s. The last new system in the Top10 - at No. 10 - is also an SGI Altix ICE 8200 system. It is the biggest system installed at an industrial customer, Total Exploration Production. It was ranked based on a Linpack performance of 106.1 Tflop/s, according to Top500.

The European share (184 systems - up from 149) is still rising and is again larger then the Asian share (48 - down from 58 systems). Dominant countries in Asia are Japan with 22 systems (up from 20), China with 12 systems (up from 10), India with 6 systems (down from 9), and Taiwan with 3 (down from 11), according to the survey. In Europe, UK remains the No. 1 with 53 systems (48 six months ago). Germany improved but is still in the No. 2 spot with 46 systems (31 six months ago), the survey found.

The group notes a number of other features from the survey:

  • Quad-core processor based systems have taken over the Top500 quite rapidly. Already 283 systems are using them. Two hundred three systems are using dual-core processors, only eleven systems still use single core processors, and three systems use IBM's advanced Sony PlayStation 3 processor with 9 cores.

  • The top industrial customer, at No. 10, is the French oil company: Total Exploration Production.

  • IBM held on to its lead in systems with 210 systems (42 per cent) over Hewlett Packard with 183 systems (36.6 per cent). IBM had 232 systems (46.4 per cent) six months ago, compared to HP with 166 systems (33.2 per cent).

  • IBM remains the clear leader in the Top500 list in performance with 48 per cent of installed total performance (up from 45), compared to HP with 22.4 per cent (down from 23.9). In the system category Dell, SGI and Cray follow with 5.4 , 4.4 and 3.2 per cent respectively.

  • The last system on the list would have been listed at position 200 in the previous Top500 just six months ago. This is the largest turnover rate in the 16-year history of the Top500 project.

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Michael Cooney

Network World

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