November 12, 2012

World's Fastest Supercomputers Titan and then Sequoia

The 40th edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 List of the world’s top supercomputers was released today (Nov. 12, 2012). The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Titan, a Cray XK7 system, achieved 17.59 Petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. Titan has 560,640 processors, including 261,632 NVIDIA K20x accelerator cores.

In claiming the top spot, Titan knocked Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Sequoia out of No. 1 and into second place. Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system, was No. 1 in June 2012 with an impressive 16.32 Petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark. With 1,572,864 cores, Sequoia is the first system with one million or more cores.

Rounding out the top five systems are Fujitsu’s K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan (No. 3); a BlueGene/Q system named Mira at Argonne National Laboratory (No. 4); and a BlueGene/Q system named JUQUEEN at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany (No. 5), which was upgraded and is now the most powerful system in Europe.

The other new system in the Top 10 is Stampede, a Dell PowerEdge C8220 system installed at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas in Austin. It uses the brand new Intel Xeon Phi processors (previously known as MIC) to achieve its 2.6 Petaflop/s.

In all there are 23 systems with Petaflop/s performance on the latest list, just four-and-a-half years after the debut of Roadrunner, the world’s first Petaflop/s supercomputer.

Here are additional highlights from the 40th list:

* A total of 62 systems on the list are using Accelerator/Co-Processor technology, including Titan and the Chinese Tianhe-1A system (No. 8), which use NVIDIA GPUs to accelerate computation and Stampede and six others, which are accelerated by the new Intel Xeon Phi processors. Six months ago, 58 systems used accelerators or co-processors.

* Systems with multi-core processors dominate the list—84.6 percent of the systems use processors with six or more cores and 46.2 percent with eight or more cores.

* Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest share (76 percent) of TOP500 systems. Intel is followed by the AMD Opteron family with 60 systems (12 percent), the same as six months ago. IBM Power processors are used in 53 systems (10.6 percent).

* InfiniBand technology now provides interconnects on 226 systems, up from 209 systems, making it the most-used internal system interconnect technology. Gigabit Ethernet interconnects are now found on 188 systems, down from 207 six months ago.

* The U.S. is clearly the leading consumer of HPC systems with 251 of the 500 systems (compared to 252 on the June 2012 list). The European share (105 systems—down from 106 last time) is still lower than the Asian share (123 systems – 122 last time).

* The number of systems installed in China has now stabilized at 72, compared with 68 and 74 on the last two lists. China occupies the No. 2 position as a user of HPC, ahead of Japan, UK, France, and Germany. When it comes to performance share of the list, however, Japan holds the No. 2 position, ahead of China.

* European presence on the list is almost equal among UK, France, and Germany, with 24, 21 and 20 systems respectively.

* The entry level to the list moved up to the 76.5 Tflop/s mark on the Linpack benchmark, compared to 60.8 Tflop/s six months ago. The entry point for the TOP100 increased to 241.3 Tflop/s from 172.7 Tflop/s in six months.

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