We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

IBM holds lead on Top500 Supercomputers list

Next list to evaluate power efficiency

IBM has maintained its lead, and its bragging rights, over rivals in the number of supercomputer systems it operates throughout the world.

IBM holds a 47.8 percent share of the biannual Top500 Supercomputers list to be released today at Supercomputing 2006, an industry convention in Tampa, Florida. Second-placed HP holds a 31.2 percent share of systems on the list.

The Top500 list, compiled by university researchers in the US and Germany, ranks supercomputer systems by performance as measured by teraflops (trillions of computer calculations per second).

But even though supercomputer users don't buy them for their energy efficiency, the Top500 list will begin to include power efficiency measures in its next list, due out in June 2007. In recent years, energy and the labour costs of managing computer systems have exceeded the cost of the hardware itself.

"We are looking at teraflops per watt and we are starting to track that and will at least provide the numbers," said Erich Strohmaier, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and one of the list compilers. However, next year's list will still be ranked by computing performance.

Rankings based on processor brand shifted significantly with AMD's Opteron processors taking market share from Intel processors. Intel's market share fell to 52.2 percent from 66.6 percent in the year ago survey, while AMD's doubled to 22.6 percent from 11 percent. IBM fell to third place despite seeing its share rise to 18.6 percent from 14.6 percent.

IBM claims the number one spot on the 500 list with its IBM BlueGene/L system, installed at the US DoE LLNL (Department of Energy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) in California. It operates at a maximum processing speed of 280.6 teraflops.

Supercomputing capabilities have been growing faster than Moore's Law, said Jack Dongarra, a distinguished professor in the Innovative Computing Laboratory at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, another one of the list creators. Moore's Law holds that computer processing power doubles every 18 months, but the supercomputing sector's has been doubling every 14 months.

Dongarra cites developments such as multiple core processing, enabling chips to handle several instructions simultaneously, and Gigabit Ethernet, moving data among a network of computers at 1 billion bits per second, for the surge in supercomputing power.

The aggregate processing power of all 500 systems on the latest list is 3.54 petaflops, from 2.79 petaflops in the June listing and 2.30 petaflops a year ago. A petaflop is 1,000 teraflops.

Although HP's brand doesn't appear on the list until Number 40, an AlphaServer system at the DoE's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, HP and IBM are the only vendors with double-digit market share. Both of them lead in supercomputing because they lead in the industry standard x86 processor platform market, said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, a market research firm.

"IBM sells a lot of different types of systems and there are a lot of x86 servers in the Top500," said Haff. "HP also has a very strong x86 line and in the Top500 space, vendors who can do some level of large scale integration and tend to have an advantage."

The US is home to the most supercomputing systems with 306, followed by Europe with 95, and Asia with 79.

The top five supercomputers on the list are as follows:

  • BlueGene/L, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US, IBM
  • Red Storm, Sandia National Laboratories, US, Cray
  • BGW, The Thomas J Watson Research Center, US, IBM
  • ASC Purple, Department of Energy/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US, IBM
  • MareNostrum, Bareclona Computer Center, Spain, IBM

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model