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Monday, 17 November 2008 18:05

Intel Inside 379 of fastest 500 computers on planet

The 32nd list of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, based on performance, has been published and Intel is inside an astonishing 379 of them! So, just how fast is the top ten?

These days it is possible to have a personal supercomputer on your desktop or even a supercomputer laptop courtesy of a PlayStation 3 powered SpursEngine Quad Core HD.

Funny enough, there is a PlayStation 3 link to the supercomputer at the top of the 500 list, the fastest supercomputer in the world, the astounding 1.105 petaflop/s IBM RoadRunner based at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The BladeCenter QS22/LS21 Cluster, PowerXCell 8i 3.2 Ghz / Opteron DC 1.8 GHz , Voltaire Infiniband to be precise, has a PowerXCell 8i 3200 MHz (12.8 GFlops) processor driving it.

The PlayStation 3 connection being the cell processors which are part of this, more than 12,000 of them.

This positioning comes as no great surprise, the RoadRunner has held the top spot since June 2008. However, it only narrowly managed to beat the Cray XT5 Jaguar supercomputer which can be found at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Jaguar was only the second supercomputer to break the petaflop/s barrier with a performance of 1.059 petaflop/s and one of seven of the top 10 computers to be owned by the US Department of Energy.
The only supercomputer located outside the US to make the top 10 was the Chinese-built Dawning 5000A at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center. This holds the record as being the largest system which can be operated with the Windows HPC 2008 OS.

But when it comes to kudos, they all have to go to Intel. A total of 379 systems, or 75.8 percent of the top 500, are using Intel processors. What's more, Intel is also powering 49 systems in the top 100. Those using the Xeon quad-core processors are most dominating with a total of 288 spots.

Do any single-core systems make it into the list, and is IBM still kicking HP ass when it comes to the vendor race? Find out on page 2...


Generally speaking, quad-core is king here. 336 systems on the list are using them compared to 153 using dual-core processors, while only four are still in the single core dark ages.

Perhaps surprisingly, seven systems are using those nine core Sony PlayStation 3 processors we mentioned at the start of this piece.

It isn't just the hardware that Intel can boast of in the list, it is also responsible for HPC software tools which are being used by around 75 percent of the listed systems as well.

Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Server Platforms Group says "With our multi-core innovation powering so many systems on the TOP500, it's clear that Intel is committed to pushing the boundaries of supercomputing."

Behind Intel, IBM Power processors and the AMD Opteron family are neck and neck on 60 and 59 systems respectively.

When it comes to vendors, HP has overtaken IBM with 209 systems (41.8 percent) compared to 188 (37.6 percent) which is a big change from just six months ago when IBM had 42 percent and HP 36.6 percent.

The top 10 comprises of:

1. IBM RoadRunner (1.105 petaflop/s)
2. Cray Jaguar XT5 (1.059 petaflop/s)
3. SGI Altix Pleiades (487 teraflop/s)
4. IBM BlueGene/L (478.2 teraflop/s)
5. IBM BlueGene/P  (450.3 teraflop/s)
6. Sun Ranger(433.2 teraflop/s)
7. Cray Franklin (266.3 teraflop/s)
8. Cray Jaguar XT4 (205 teraflop/s)
9. Cray Red Storm (204.2 teraflop/s)
10. Dawning 5000A (180.6 teraflop/s)

The Top500 Supercomputer list can be found, in full, here .

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