Home Science Energy IBM dominates Green500 supercomputer list

IBM dominates Green500 supercomputer list

IBM has smashed its competitors in the latest Green500 list of the most energy-efficient supercomputers, which shows that performance and running costs need not be diametrically opposed. The latest list shows that other supercomputer vendors are struggling to compete with IBM in the bang per Watt stakes.

Where the better known TOP500 list ranks supercomputers in terms of the number of calculations they can perform in a second, the Green500 adjusts this for the amount of energy consumed.

Equal first on the Green500 are two differently configured IBM BladeCenter QS22 clusters, one operated by IBM itself, the other by the Fraunhofer Institute. Both are rated at 488.14 MFLOPS/W (millions of floating point operations per second per watt).

These systems are ranked at a relatively lowly 324 and 464 on the TOP500, but the next entry is where things get interesting.

Number three on the Green500 is Roadrunner, the recently revealed petaflop BladeCenter system installed at the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

This system currently heads the TOP500 list, and despite burning a massive 2345.5kW, it is so fast that it achieves 437.43 MFLOPS/W.

This is the first time that the top three computers on the Green500 have delivered more than 400 MFLOPS/W.

The next 12 systems are all IBM Blue Gene/P configurations delivering around 360 to 370 MFLOPS/W.

Do any other manufacturers get a look in? Find out on page 2.


"Energy efficiency has become just as important as simple raw performance for the modern supercomputer. As applications for supercomputers increase, so does the attention on this aspect of their use," said Dave Turek, IBM's vice president for deep computing.

IBM takes an impressive 45 of the top 50 spots on the Green500 list. The only other vendor to get a look in is SGI, with its Altix ICE systems.

SGI's highest entry is at number 17 with the system installed at Total Exploration Production. This Altix ICE 8200EX supercomputer is ranked tenth on the TOP500.

The moral of the story seems to be that you can have the fastest computer on earth without it costing the earth to run.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.