Roadrunner still king in Supercomputer top 500 list

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Roadrunner still king in Supercomputer top 500 list

IBM’s roadrunner pips Cray's XT5 Jaguar supercomputer to the post, narrowly holding on to its record as the world's fastest supercomputer, according to the bi-annual 'Top 500' supercomputing list, anyway.

Back in June IBM’s Roadrunner, based at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, broke a computing record to achieve the long coveted goal of being able to process over 1.105 quadrillion calculations a second, smashing through the petaflops barrier.

But then last week, after a US$100 million upgrade, Cray's XT5 Jaguar, which sits at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also broke through to petaflops territory at 1.059 petaflops.

Whilst Roadrunner is based on IBM QS22 blades powered by the PowerXCell 8i – an advanced parallel processing chip used as an accelerator and turbocharger, a lesser version of which is used in Sony’s PlayStation 3 – Jaguar is based on AMD’s quad-core Opteron processors, making it the first entirely x86-based system to break the petaflops barrier.

X86 and X64 architecture certainly seem to rule the supercomputerry roost, and despite IBM and AMD’s systems topping the charts, Intel’s processors hold a whopping 370 systems out of the 500 on this week’s list, some 75.8 percent, up from 75 per cent on the last list.

Intel’s Kirk Skaugen, VP and general manager of its Server Platforms Group noted, "with our multi-core innovation powering so many systems on the top 500, it's clear that Intel is committed to pushing the boundaries of supercomputing."

59 Super-puters use AMD's Opteron processors (11.8 percent) whilst 60 machines use a variant of IBM's PowerPC or Power processors (12 percent).

Multi-core systems are now the norm, with 153 systems using dual-core chips and quad core chips rapidly on the rise, now making an appearance in 336 systems.

But its quality, not quantity that counts, and IBM’s nine-core PowerXCell chips have managed to sneak their way into seven systems in the top 500, including the winning Roadrunner. Only four machines on the list still use single-core processors.

Nine of the top 10 systems are located in the US. The most powerful system outside the US is China's Dawning 5000A, which is also the largest system based on Windows HPC 2008.

Coming in with an astounding 209 systems, HP is supercomputer system maker supreme, followed by IBM with 188. When the systems are broken down by region, the US still thrashes its rivals with 291 systems, up from 257 since the last list. Europe follows with 151 systems, followed by Asia with 47 systems.

Within Euro territory, Brittania rules with 45 top systems followed by Germany with 24. In Asia, Japan now only has a narrow lead on China with 18 systems to China’s 16, having fallen from 22 systems while China rose from 12. India has also managed to push forward from six systems to eight this time around.

Getting into the top 500 list has also become tougher this time around, with the entry level for the list rising from 9.0 teraflops in May to 12.64 teraflops. This of course has led to an aggregate performance boost of some 44.9 per cent, reaching 16.95 petaflops.
Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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