Theres a new big dog on the block. On June 20, this years first update of the top 500 supercomputers list (which is updated twice a year) has a new first-place entry, an NEC-built vector processing system that is 5 times faster than the IBM system that was formerly ranked No. 1.
In fact, the supercomputer, called Earth Simulator, has as much computing power as the next 12 systems on the list combined.
As of just three years ago, the computing power of every one of the worlds top 500 computers would have to be combined to reach Earth Simulators 35- teraflop capacity, showing how fast the front edge of this technology curve is moving.
The system was built for the Earth Simulator Center in Yokohama, Japan.
The computers 35 teraflops of performance, 5,120 CPUs and 10 terabytes of RAM are used to model a virtual earth down to a 1-km resolution. The simulation will be studied by researchers to examine the effects of global warming on climate change, acid rain and other types of air pollution, tectonic plate movement, and other earthwide phenomena.
The worlds now-second-fastest system, ASCI White, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is used by the U.S. Department of Energy to model the effects of nuclear explosions.
The fastest PC-based supercomputer (at No. 35 on the list) is an AMD Athlon MP-based cluster at the University of Heidelberg, in Germany.