In Pictures: The 10 baddest supercomputers on Earth

The latest Top 500 ranking sees China stay on top.

  • The new top 10 The latest twice-yearly edition of the Top500 supercomputer power rankings is here, showing off the biggest and baddest of Big (and, we guess, Bad) Iron. And you thought you had a lot of horsepower in your data center.

  • ? The newcomer to the top 10 in this edition is a mysterious entry from the U.S. government, a massively parallel Cray XC-30 unit using almost 226,000 total cores of Ivy Bridge Xeon processing power for a Pi-tastic 3.14 petaflop score. Where the newcomer is located, and even what its name is, were undisclosed.

  • Vulcan The Department of Energy runs the 4.3 petaflop Vulcan, an IBM machine powered by 393,216 cores of PowerPC hardware. It’s among the most energy-efficient entries in this edition’s top 10, producing 2,177 megaflops per watt of power.

  • JUQUEEN Germany’s Jülich Research Center is the site of JUQUEEN, a hardy perennial of the top 10, which clocked in at 5 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark. It’s essentially a slightly larger version of Vulcan, using the same IBM Blue Gene/Q architecture and PowerPC chips.

  • Stampede The Dell-built Stampede resides at the University of Texas’ Advanced Computing Center, using Intel Xeon Phi processors to deliver 5.16 petaflops of performance. Stampede is the fastest academic supercomputer in the world, according to Top500.

  • Piz Daint The power-sipping Piz Daint – at 2,697 megaflops per watt, the most efficient supercomputer in the top 10 – is the Swiss National Supercomputing Center’s showpiece. Appropriately named for an Alp, Piz Daint puts out 6.27 petaflops of processing power.

  • Mira The Argonne Lab’s Mira is yet another IBM Blue Gene/Q entry, the third of four on the list. Posting a mark of 8.59 petaflops, Mira packs 786,432 total processor cores.

  • K Computer Fujitsu’s K Computer, which has been a part of the top 10 longer than any other system, is still powerful despite its age and comparatively poor energy efficiency. The SPARC64-powered cluster posted a Linpack score of 10.5 petaflops.

  • Sequoia The fastest supercomputer not to make use of accelerator cores, Sequoia is the biggest (at 1,572,864 total cores) Blue Gene/Q system on the latest Top500 list, and used the second-highest number of cores to post its 17.2 petaflop score.

  • Titan The most powerful of the six American entries in this edition’s top 10, Titan uses about a third as many processor cores as Sequoia, but takes advantage of its 261,632 accelerator cores to reach a 17.6 petaflop mark.

  • Tianhe-2 That’s three lists in a row, if you’re counting – China’s Tianhe-2 (Milky Way 2) posted the same 33.9 petaflop mark as before to retain the title of most powerful supercomputer on Earth. If the second-place system is a titan, Tianhe-2 is a colossus, packing a grand total of 5,856,000 processor and accelerator cores into a gigantic cluster architecture.

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