IBM Tops List Of Fastest Supercomputers

HP leads with 40.6% of the systems, up from 31.6% in November, while IBM has 38.4%, down from 47.2%. No other vendor has more than 5% of the systems on the list.

IBM's Blue Gene/L is the world's fastest computer, finishing No. 1 for the fourth consecutive time on a biannual list of the top 500 supercomputers.

The Blue Gene/L held on to the top spot as the performance needed to make it on the Top500 list, released Wednesday at the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden, Germany, soared by more than 46% to 4.005 teraflops per second. A teraflop is a trillion calculations.

The winning Blue Gene/L system was developed by IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. The supercomputer, installed at the DoE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., reached a Linpack benchmark of 280.6 teraflops per second. The only other systems to exceed 100 teraflops per second were a Cray XT4/XT3 at 101.7 teraflops per second, at DoE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; and a Cray Red Storm system at 101.4 teraflops per second, at the DoE's Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The big jump in baseline performance needed to make the Top500 resulted in the largest turnover rate between lists in the project's 15-year history. The supercomputer ranked 500 on the current list would have ranked 216 on the last list published in November. The supercomputer rankings are published in June and November.

IBM and Hewlett-Packard have sold the bulk of the Top500 systems. HP on the current list leads with 40.6% of the systems, up from 31.6% in November, while IBM has 38.4%, down from 47.2%. No other vendor has more than 5% of the systems on the list.

Installations of IBM's Blue Gene/L system also ranked No. 5 and No. 7 on the list, and were the largest supercomputers in an academic setting. Big Blue was the clear leader among the top 50 systems, with 46% of the installations and 49% of the performance. HP was absent from the top 50. IBM also was the leader of the full list in installed performance, accounting for 41.9%, down from 49.5%. HP systems accounted for 24.5% of total performance, up from 16.5%.

New to the top 10 was a Dell Abe PowerEdge 1955 system at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. The system ranked No. 8. The fastest supercomputer in Europe was an IBM JS21 cluster at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, which ranked No. 9 at 62.63 teraflops per second. No. 10 was an SGI HLRB-II Altix 4700 system at the Leibniz Computer Center in Munich, Germany. The system has a performance level of 56.52 teraflops per second.

The total combined performance for all 500 systems reached 4.92 petaflops per second, compared to 3.54 petaflops per second in November and 2.79 petaflops per second a year ago. A petaflop equals a thousand teraflops.

Other trends: The number of systems using Intel processors increased slightly from November to 289 from 261. The second most commonly used processors were the Opteron family from Advanced Micro Devices, followed by IBM Power processors. Dual-core processors were the dominant chip architecture, with Intel's Woodcrest chip showing the most growth to 205 systems from 31 in the previous list.

Clusters remained the most common architecture, accounting for 373 systems, or 74.6% of the total.

The United States remained the leading consumer of high-performance computing systems with 281 of the 500 systems. The European share rose to 127 systems from 95 in the previous list. The Asian share fell to 72 from 79. The average age of a system in the Top500 was only 1 year and 2 months.

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