Doing the Supercomputer Shuffle

by Clint Boulton

BlueGene/L holds fast, while the rest of the Top 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers dance around.

IBM's BlueGene/L system is still king of the supercomputing heap, according to the 28th list of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers unveiled at the Supercomputing 2006 show in Tampa, Fla. Tuesday.

The annual "TOP500" list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany.

BlueGene/L, a massive network of servers used to simulate nuclear testing,kept the top spot on the Top 500 list with a speed of 280.6 teraflops, or trillions of calculations per second.

But the top 10 spots on the list saw some interesting changes among supercomputers, which are used to run anything from applications that simulate weapons to software that computes biotechnology or pharmaceutical projects.

IBM's eServer Blue Gene Solution system was booted from the No. 2 slot by the Cray Red Storm supercomputer as only the second system ever to zip past the 100 teraflop barrier.

Used for nuclear arms and homeland security research at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, Red Storm hit 101.4 teraflops. At 36.19 teraflops, the first Red Storm system was ranked No. 9 in the June 2006 edition of the Top 500 list.

IBM machines hold the next few spots.

The eServer Blue Gene Solution supercomputer, installed at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center and used in weather modeling, bioinformatics and text-to-speech research, landed in third place with a speed of 91.2 teraflops.

Blue Gene Solution knocked IBM's ASC Purple, used in weapons performance applications, from No. 3 to No. 4 with 75.76 teraflops.

The new No. 5 supercomputer is the IBM JS21 cluster. Installed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, the system reached 62.63 teraflops and is used to run atmospheric, climate and molecular biology computations.

Sandia's Thunderbird Dell PowerEdge system hit 53 teraflops, holding onto the No. 6 spot. This machine also powers nuclear defense and homeland security research.

The NovaScale 5160 system built by the French company Bull and installed at France's Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA) for national defense slipped to No. 7 from No. 5 in June, despite a new measurement of 52.84 teraflops.

NASA's Columbia SGI Altix system for aerospace research held the No. 8 position at 51.87 teraflops, sliding from No. 4.

An NEC cluster used for international cooperative research and education took the No. 9 spot at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Based on Sun Fire X4600 servers with Opteron processors, the system hit 47.38 teraflops.

The current No. 10 system is the upgraded Jaguar Cray XT3 system at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory with 43.48 teraflops, which is more than double its predecessor's speed of 20.53 teraflops. This machine runs calculations for basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences and fusion energy.

NEC's Earth Simulator, which held the No. 1 spot for five lists, has now slipped out of the TOP 10 and is ranked at No. 14.

In other supercomputing trends of note, AMD Opteron machines are creeping up on Intel machines, which comprised 261 systems of the 500 top systems acknowledged by the list, down from 333 one year ago.

The AMD Opteron family passed the IBM Power processors and is now the second most common processor family with 113 systems, up from 55 system one year ago. IBM Power processors power 93 systems compared to 73 a year ago.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Nov 14th 2006
Mobile Site | Full Site