IBM, Cray Stay Atop Top500 Supercomputer List

IBM and Cray remained in the top two spots on the list of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. IBM also had five of the top 10, with Cray and Sun Microsystems following with two each. According to the Top500 list, released at the International Supercomputing Conference, HP continues to have the most systems on the list, while almost 80 percent of the supercomputers on the list run Intel processors. IBM and AMD have the second- and third-most chips in supercomputers on the list.

IBM and Cray continue to hold the top two spots on the list of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

The Top500 list, to be released June 23 at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany, has IBM's Roadrunner supercomputer at the top for the second straight year.

The BladeCenter compute cluster, running at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, hit the top spot in June 2008, and while some reports leading up to the new list this year had other systems challenging it, none were able to knock it off. Roadrunner's performance comes in at 1.105 petaflops per second-or quadrillions of floating point operations per second.

Cray's XT5 Jaguar supercomputer, at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, remained in second, with a performance of 1.059 petaflops per second.

However, there were some changes after that, according to the list. The Forschunngszentrum Juelich facility in Germany took the third spot with an IBM Blue Gene/P system called Jugene. In addition, the German research facility also grabbed hold of the 10th spot, with the Juropa system, which is a combination of SunBlade X6048 servers from Sun Microsystems and NovaScale servers from Bull. The Jugene supercomputer had a performance of 825.5 teraflops per second-or trillions of floating point operations per second-while Juropa's performance stood at 274.8 teraflops.

Those two systems also were the only non-U.S. supercomputers to make the top 10.

In all, IBM had five of the top 10 spots, while Sun and Cray had two. SGI rounded out the top 10.

The researchers who compile the Top500 list-Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim in Germany, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, said the the United States was the top market for HPC (high-peformance computing) systems, with 291 of the top 500, while Europe was second with 145 systems. The Asian market had 49 systems.

The researchers also said that energy efficiency is continuing to grow as an important issue among supercomputer users, and the Top500 list now offers data on energy consumption, in the form of megaflops per second per watt. The IBM QS22 Cell processor blades and IBM Blue Gene/P systems are among the most energy efficient, they said, but that the systems running Intel's quad-core "Harpertown" Xeons are catching up.

Other trends include HP continuing to have the most systems in the top 500, though IBM is still ahead in overall installed performance, they said.

Almost 80 percent of the supercomputers on the list run Intel processors, with IBM (11 percent) and Advanced Micro Devices (8.6 percent) following.