AMD, HP Nab Wins in Supercomputer Rankings

In the cartoons, the Road Runner always managed to fend off the Coyote. On the latest Top 500 supercomputer list, the Roadrunner managed to hold off a Jaguar.

Roadrunner, the Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputer and the first to break the petaflop barrier, held on to the top spot of the Top 500 list of supercomputers, just ahead of a Cray XT5 supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory called Jaguar.

While IBM (NYSE: IBM) built Roadrunner and Cray built Jaguar, AMD (NYSE: AMD) powers both. The company’s long-delayed Barcelona processors run the two fastest computers in the world and seven of the top 10. Two of the top 10 supercomputers use IBM POWER processors, and only one, the new Pleiades system built by NASA, SGI and Intel, uses Xeon.

The rankings are maintained by the TOP500 project at its, and are compiled twice a year by computer researchers in the U.S. and Europe.

“Today’s TOP500 Supercomputing Sites list reaffirms AMD’s leadership and the tremendous performance capability that HPC customers have enjoyed for years,” Patrick Patla, vice president and general manager of the Server Workstation Division at AMD, said in a statement.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is hardly hurting, however. A total of 379 systems on the list use Intel processors, mostly Xeon and a few Itaniums, while AMD has 59 systems on the list. IBM has 60 running its POWER processor.

China made its presence known for the first time in the newest rankings with the most powerful computer outside the U.S., which came in at number 10 on the list. The AMD Opteron-based system, called the Dawning Cluster, runs Windows HPC Cluster edition and has a peak performance of 233 teraflops.

The latest list also marked the first time that IBM fell from the top as the dominant hardware provider. HP soared from 183 systems on the last TOP500 ranking, in June, to 209 systems — or 41.8 percent of all of the list’s systems. IBM fell from 210 to 183 systems.

“The continued dominance of HP BladeSystem customers on the TOP500 list demonstrates the growing market demand for industry-standard architectures that address a broader set of computing challenges at a far lower cost than proprietary systems and mainframes,” Christine Martino, general manager for HP’s scalable computing and infrastructure organization, said in a statement.

Also making its presence felt is Sony, in the form of supercomputers built on its PlayStation 3 console. Last time, there was one cluster of PS3s on the list: Now, there are nine. While PS3 may be struggling in the gaming marketplace, it seems to be growing popular with the HPC crowd.

Quad-core processors continue to dominate in the newest ranking, with 336 of the 500 systems running quad core. Another 153 systems are using dual-core processors, and only four systems still use single core processors.

Four of the top ten supercomputers are new entries. The highest debut is Jaguar, a 1.059 petaflop system, and number three is Pleiades, a SGI Altix ICE system with 487 teraflops.

The list continues to raise the bar. The entry level to the list moved up to the 12.64 teraflops on the Linpack benchmark used to measure all of the computers on the list, compared to 9.0 teraflops just six months ago. The total combined performance of all 500 systems has grown to 16.95 petaflops, a significant rise from the 11.7 petaflops just six months ago and 6.97 petaflops one year ago.

The U.S. increased its share of HPC systems, from 257 to 291 in just six months. Europe fell from 184 total to 151 and Japan fell from 22 to 18 systems, while China was up to 16 systems from 12 and India grew from six to eight systems.

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