IBM, Cray lead Top 500 supercomputer rankings

IBM, HP, Cray, Intel dominate Top 500 supercomputer list

The world's two most powerful computers have not been surpassed in 2009, but the latest edition of the Top 500 supercomputer list shows a new entry in third place and continued dominance from the likes of IBM, Cray, HP and Intel.

Announced Tuesday, the Top 500 Supercomputer Sites list ranks the world's fastest machines twice a year. The total combined performance of the 500 machines has reached 22.6 petaflops, nearly twice what was achieved only one year ago. Each petaflop represents one thousand trillion calculations per second.

Still ranked number one is the Roadrunner system at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, which was built by IBM and is rated at 1.105 petaflops.

Still in second place is the Cray XT5 Jaguar system at Doe's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, rated at 1.059 petaflops.

The highest-ranking newcomer on the list is an IBM BlueGene/P system in Germany, which is called JUGENE and is installed at the Forschungszentrum Juelich research center. JUGENE performs 825.5 trillion calculations per second and has a "theoretical peak performance" of more than 1 petaflop, according to the Top 500 announcement.

JUGENE edged out the previous third-place entrant, a NASA machine known as Pleiades. The Juelich research center also houses the new 10th place finisher, which is called Europa and achieved 274.8 trillion calculations per second using Bull NovaScale and Sun Blade x6048 servers. These two German computers are the only top ten systems from outside the United States.

There were two other new entries in the top ten: A Cray XT5 system at the University of Tennessee, which is in sixth place; and an IBM system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in ninth place.

In addition to changes in the top, there was significant upheaval in the lower levels of the top 500. The slowest computer of the 500, which achieved 17.1 trillion calculations per second, would have been the 274th fastest only six months ago.

On average, each system in the top ten consumes 2.45 megawatts, unchanged from six months ago. Power efficiency has increased substantially, however, as the systems are now offering greater performance in the same power envelope.

Six months ago, Microsoft achieved a milestone by placing a Windows-based system in the top ten. That system, based at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, is now rated #15 in the world.

In broader terms, the Top 500 update shows that HP still has the most individual systems on the list, but IBM ranks the highest when it comes to total performance of systems in the Top 500.

Cray's XT systems are still popular in large high-performance computing centers, with 10 out of the top 50 systems worldwide. Nearly 80% of the Top 500 computers are based on Intel processors, up from 75.8% six months ago. Intel gained at the expense of IBM and AMD. IBM Power processors account for 55 of the Top 500, down from 60; while AMD Opteron accounts for 43 systems, down from 59.

The United States accounts for 291 of the top systems, compared to 145 in Europe and 49 in Asia.

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