Since 1993, the Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers has been released on a twice yearly basis, and has given the industry a view not only of what those systems are, but also overall trends in the high-performance computing (HPC) space. The most recent list was released Nov. 16 during the SC 15 supercomputing show in Austin, Texas, and it was a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. There was little movement in the top 10—only two new supercomputers from the list that was released in July—but a lot of changes throughout the list. China's presence continues to grow; more systems are using accelerators for greater performance and power efficiency, and more compute cores are being crammed into them. Lenovo rises and IBM falls a year after Lenovo bought IBM's x86 server business. However, the overarching trend is that while the overall performance of systems continues to grow, the growth itself is still slowing, something that started happening several years ago. This eWEEK slide show takes a look at some of the trends found in the latest Top500 list.
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There wasn't much change at the top end of the latest Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. There were only two new systems listed in the top 10, and overall, the twice yearly list's organizers said that the average performance of all 500 systems continued a slowing trend that started in 2008. Six of the Top 10 systems were installed in 2011 or 2012. Tianhe-2 was installed in 2013, and Trinity, Hazel Hen and Shaheen II in 2015. However, there were changes at lower levels of the list, including China's growing presence at the expense of the United States and Europe. In the top 10, China's Tianhe-2—which means "Milky Way"—supercomputer, housed at the country's National University of Defense Technology, retains its position at the top of the list, almost doubling the performance of Titan, which is No. 2. The two new systems in the top 10 are both based on Cray's Intel Xeon-based XC40 servers, and at the top of the list, four of the fastest 10 used either GPU accelerators from Nvidia or Intel's x86-based Xeon Phi coprocessors to help increase performance while holding down power consumption. This eWEEK slide show takes a look at those systems in the top 10.
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