IBM Supercomputers Are the Most Energy-Efficient

IBM, which already boasted the most powerful supercomputers in the world, now also claims 18 of the 20 most energy-efficient systems, according to a Top 20 list compiled by Green500, complementing the Top500 list of the fastest computers. IBM's most powerful system also was the fourth most efficient, and Green500 noted that while all the supercomputers on the list were using 15 percent more power than those on the list in 2008, they also were 10 percent more efficient.

IBM, which already has five of the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world, now also dominates the top of the list of the most energy-efficient systems.

Eighteen of the 20 most efficient supercomputers are IBM systems, according to the Green500 list, released by Green500 July 13. The list can be found here.

The most efficient supercomputer, according to the list, is IBM's BladeCenter QS22 cluster at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modeling at the University of Warsaw, in Poland. That system-which is the 422nd most powerful supercomputer-can run 536.24 Mflops (million floating-point operations per second) per watt of energy.

Click here for a look at the world's most powerful supercomputers.

The fastest supercomputer in the world, IBM's Roadrunner BladeCenter QS22/LS21 Cluster at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, was also the fourth most efficient. According to Green500, the Roadrunner produces 444.94 Mflops per watt.

The only two non-IBM systems in the top 20 were the GRAPE-DR (Greatly Reduced Array of Processor Elements with Data Reduction) supercomputer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which came in fifth and produced 428.91 Mflops per watt, and NEC's HPC 140Rb-1 Cluster at the University of Stuttgart in Germany, which placed 20th at 273.06 megaflops per watt.

According to David Turek, vice president of IBM's deep computing business, speed is no longer the only factor being considered when building a supercomputer.

"Modern supercomputers can no longer focus only on raw performance," Turek said in a statement. "To be commercially viable, these systems must also be energy-efficient."

Green500, in releasing the list, noted that overall energy efficiency had increased by 10 percent since 2008, even though the raw power use of the systems had grown 15 percent, which means the systems on the list are using more power but doing so more efficiently.

The group also pointed out that commodity four- and six-core processors are gaining ground on custom chips. Twenty of the 50 most efficient systems use commodity chips from Advanced Micro Devices and Intel.