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Supercomputers Getting Faster - At Faster Rate

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The list of the world's top supercomputers reveals what data transfer and storage technologies are leading the way toward greater speed. Drew Robb reports.


My laptop didn't make the latest edition of the Top500.org's list of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. But 25 years ago, it might have. Such is the speed of advancement in the computing field that last year's top dog is this year's also ran.

"The first petaflop system (quadrillions of calculations per second) was Roadrunner at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories based on IBM BladeCenter," said Dan Olds, principal at Gabriel Consulting Group. "From No. 1 18 months ago, it is now in 7th place."

In the past six months, the entry level to make it onto the list jumped to 31.1 teraflop/s (trillions of calculations per second) from 24.7 Tflop/s. No. 305 from June has fallen all the way to 500. So it will be interesting to see how long the brand new No. 1 -- the Chinese Tianhe-1A system -- can hold onto its lead.

Tianhe-1A is stationed at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, where it achieved a performance level of 2.57 petaflop/s, running the running Linpack benchmark application used to determine the Top500. With 29376 GB of memory, it is based on Nvidia graphics processing units (GPUs) as well as Intel Xeon 5600 series processors.

Read the rest at ServerWatch.

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