IBM Sits Atop Supercomputer List


As expected, IBM took over the top slot on the Top500
supercomputing list with a BlueGene/L system that shatters previous Linpack
benchmarks at 70.7 trillion floating points per second (teraflops)
.


Second on the list, unveiled Monday at the Supercomputing 2004 conference in
Pittsburgh, Pa., was the Columbia system built by
SGI, which was installed at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View,
Calif. Columbia rated 51.8 teraflops.


BlueGene/L and Columbia effectively allow the United States to reclaim the
supercomputing reins from Japan’s NEC , whose Earth
Simulator has ruled the roost since 2002. At a performance of 35.86
teraflops, the Simulator had held the No. 1 position for five consecutive
editions of the list and now holds the third slot.


The winning BlueGene/L is being used to
test nuclear weapons degradation by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). Once
completed in 2005, it will be moved to the DoE’s Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. NASA is using Columbia for astronomy
and physics.


The latest Top500 list is the 24th in the series from a group of authors that tests various high-performance computing machines for their ability to
perform speedy, complex mathematical equations.


Government agencies and researchers for educational institutions are using
supercomputers to meet challenges in nuclear defense, bioinformatics,
climatology and other important scientific fields.


While the Fortran-based Linpack benchmark is not
the definitive test for computing performance — no benchmark really is —
it is widely regarded by experts in the field.


Judging from the latest Top500 results, speed, not size, is the prevailing
trend, with the number of systems exceeding the 1 teraflop mark vaulting
from 242 to 399. More broadly, the total combined performance of all 500
systems on the list has exceeded the 1 petaflop mark.


Intel-based systems dominate the Top500 list, with 320 machines powered by
the company’s chips. IBM Power processors (54 systems) follow, ahead of
HP’s PA Risc processors (48) and AMD processors (31).


In other results, IBM nabbed the fourth spot with the MareNostrum cluster
installed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, while California Digital
Corp.’s Thunder supercomputer fell to the fifth spot from No. 2.


HP’s ASCI Q came in sixth, followed by Apple Computer’s
“SuperMac,” which was used at Virginia Tech, at No. 7. Another
BlueGene/L from IBM marks the eighth most powerful computing machine
according to Linpack, chased by yet another IBM system, the eServer pSeries
655 cluster.


Dell’s Tungsten PowerEdge 1750 cluster for The National
Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) rounds out the top 10
machines. The complete Top500 list is available here.

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