Top500 Supercomputers List Highlights HPC Technology Advances

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-11-20 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Top500 Supercomputers List Highlights HPC Technology Advances
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    Top500 Supercomputers List Highlights HPC Technology Advances

    By Jeffrey Burt
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    The Massive Tiahne-2 Is Still the Fastest in the World
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    The Massive Tiahne-2 Is Still the Fastest in the World

    Housed in China's National University of Defense Technology, the system runs at 33.68 petaflops, or quadrillion calculations per second. The supercomputer is powered by 3.12 million Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processor cores.
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    Piz Daint Debuts at No. 6
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    Piz Daint Debuts at No. 6

    The only new entrant into the top 10 was the Piz Daint supercomputer at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre. A Cray XC30 system, the supercomputer hit 6.27 petaflops in performance, making it Europe's most powerful system. It also leverages 5,272 of Nvidia's K20X GPU accelerators, and is the most energy-efficient of the systems in the top 10.
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    Intel Remains the Top Processor Maker in the List
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    Intel Remains the Top Processor Maker in the List

    According to the organizers of the Top500 list, 82.4 percent of the fastest 500 supercomputers run Intel processors. Pictured is Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, showing off the new Xeon E5-2600 v2 chip at the Intel Developer Forum in September.
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    Processor Cores Matter in Supercomputing
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    Processor Cores Matter in Supercomputing

    Ninety-four percent of systems on the list use processors with six or more cores. Seventy-five percent use processors with eight or more cores.
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    Organizations Look to Accelerate Performance
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    Organizations Look to Accelerate Performance

    Fifty-three of the 500 supercomputers on the list use GPU accelerators or coprocessors from Intel to ramp up the performance of their systems without driving up power consumption. Of these 53 supercomputers, 38 use Nvidia chips, 13 systems use Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor and two use Radeon GPUs from Advanced Micro Devices.
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    Top 10 Supercomputers Also Use Accelerators
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    Top 10 Supercomputers Also Use Accelerators

    The Tianhe-2 supercomputer and the Dell-based Stampede system at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (pictured)—which is number seven on the list—both use Xeon Phi coprocessors to speed up their computational capabilities. Titan, a Cray XKY supercomputer and number two on the list, and Piz Daint leverage Nvidia's GPU accelerators.
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    The Power of the Supercomputers Keeps Growing
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    The Power of the Supercomputers Keeps Growing

    In the November list, 31 of the systems offer a performance greater than a petaflop, including Titan (pictured), at 17.59 petaflops. On the June list, there were 26 such supercomputers. In addition, the last system on the list—a cluster created by Hewlett-Packard, with a performance of 117.8 teraflops—was number 363 in June.
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    The U.S. Remains the Top Supercomputing Country
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    The U.S. Remains the Top Supercomputing Country

    Of the 500 systems on the list, 265 are housed in the United States, up from 253 in June. Among those is the IBM BlueGene/Q-based Sequoia supercomputer (pictured) at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California. Asia was the second-largest region, with 115 systems (down from 118 in June), while Europe housed 102 supercomputers (compared with 112 in June).
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    The Number of Supercomputers in China Stabilizes
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    The Number of Supercomputers in China Stabilizes

    Sixty-three of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers are in China, including Tianhe-2, the fastest in the world. That number compares with 65 in the list in June. China is the second-largest user of HPC behind the United States, but ahead of other countries, including Japan (28 systems), the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Thanks to Tianhe-2, China also was the number two in the share of performance on the list, topping number three Japan. Japan's K Computer (pictured), running on Fujitsu Power64 processors, was number four on the list of the fastest systems.
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    It's a Close Race in Europe
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    It's a Close Race in Europe

    The United Kingdom houses 23 HPC systems, while France has 22 and Germany has 20, including the JuQueen (pictured), another IBM BlueGene/Q system that includes 458,752 IBM Power cores and at 5.2 petaflops is number eight on the list.
 

The SC '13 supercomputing show kicked off Nov. 18 in Denver with the release of the twice-yearly Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers, and the newest list—at least at the top—looked an awful lot like the one that came out in June. China's Tianhe-2 "Milky Way" supercomputer was still the fastest system, the top five were the same as six months ago, and nine of the top 10 in June remained the same. However, despite the lack of change over the past six months, there is still a lot of interest in the supercomputer list. These supercomputers run a wide array of jobs, from weather modeling and banking to defense systems, pharmaceuticals and energy exploration. The list also gives a glimpse of what's happening in the high-performance computing (HPC) market, such as what processors are being used, which countries house the most supercomputers and whether organizations are using accelerators and coprocessors to ramp up the performance of their systems. In addition, many of the technologies found in supercomputers today will make their way into enterprise systems tomorrow: For example, Nvidia's announcement at SC '13 that IBM will support GPU accelerators in its Power systems will help drive Nvidia's accelerator technology into the enterprise, according to company officials.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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