IBM Dominates Supercomputer List - Again

Despite IBM's dominance, however, Intel chips continue to proliferate on HPC's top 500 list.
Call it "supercomputing smackdown." Today, at the International Supercomputing Conference 2007 (ISC07) in Dresden, Germany, the Top500 group announced its latest list of the top 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

To say it's a competitive list would be an understatement and few of the players can hold top spots long without constant improvements. With a few exceptions, this June's list has seen a reshuffling since the last list was published last November.

If there is such a thing as a winner in such a competition, however, that would be IBM (Quote). Just as last November – the top 500 list is recompiled every six months – Big Blue held the top spot, with its Blue Gene/L - eServer Blue Gene Solution. In fact, IBM has taken that top spot four times running with the system deployed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

"The Blue Gene/L System development by IBM and DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., claimed the No. 1 spot," the Top500 group announced Wednesday.

That system achieved a blazing benchmark performance of 280.6 TFlops ("teraflops" or trillions of floating point operations per second) running what's called the Linpack benchmark. (For those who are not mathematically challenged, the Top500 group says the point of the Linpack benchmark is "to solve a dense system of linear equations.")

Interestingly, IBM's performance with the Power-based Blue Gene/L System was identical to its score in November 2006 and in November 2005. (IBM says the system's theoretical performance is 360 TFlops.)

Additionally, however, three other eServer Blue Gene systems made the top ten – last November, IBM only had two of the systems on the list. A fifth IBM system, a BladeCenter JS21 cluster system located at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, and also Power-based, came in at number 9, down from the number 5 spot last November.

If that weren't enough, a sixth IBM system, an eServer pSeries p5 575, also made the top ten.

Despite such a strong showing, however, Big Blue doesn't completely dominate. Neither is it the only company whose supercomputers turned in teraflop performances.

Notably, Cray (Quote) supercomputers, powered by AMD processors, hold the number two and three spots on the new list. Both beat the 100 TFlop barrier with more than 101 TFlops apiece. Cray held the number two and ten spots last time.

Intel (Quote) chips are also represented in the top ten supercomputing sites with systems from Dell (Quote) in eighth place and SGI (Quote) at ten. Bumped from June 2007's top ten were Bull SA and NEC/Sun.

Begun in 1993, this is the 29th Top500 list to be published. A lot has changed since then. As a matter of fact much has changed in just the last six months.

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