New Top 500 List

Since 1993, the TOP500 project has been publishing a semi-annual list of the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world, as a barometer of trends and accomplishments in high-performance computing.   The systems are ranked based on their speed in floating-point operations per second (FLOP/s), measured on the LINPACK benchmark, which involves the solution of a dense system of linear equations.

The most recent list has just been released, in conjunction with the International Supercomputing Conference now underway in Hamburg, and there is a new speed champion in Japan.

The system, called the K Computer, is at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe. …

The K Computer, built by Fujitsu, currently combines 68544 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs, each with eight cores, for a total of 548,352 cores—almost twice as many as any other system in the TOP500.

No single number can capture every aspect of a system’s performance, but the K Computer achieves a LINPACK speed of 8.16 petaFLOP/s (8.16 × 1015 floating point operations per second).   For the first time, all of the top 10 systems on the list achieve petaFLOP/s performance.  Five of the top ten systems are in the United States, with two in Japan, two in China, and one in France.

As you might expect, the K Computer requires a fair amount of electric power — 9.89 megawatts, in fact — but in terms of energy consumption, it is actually quite efficient, delivering 825 megaFLOPs per watt, making it the fourth-most energy efficient system on the list.  The average energy efficiency of the Top 500 systems is 248 megaFLOP/s per watt, improved from 219 megaFLOP/s per watt just six months ago.

As has been true for some time, the distribution of operating systems used is rather different from that in the desktop computing market:

OS Family Number % of Capacity
Linux 455 91.0
Unix 23 4.6
BSD-based 1 0.2
Windows 6 1.2
Mixed 15 3.0

Also, as I noted with respect to previous lists, the use of commodity processors (CPUs) is very much the norm.

One Response to New Top 500 List

  1. […] and will have 1.6 petabytes of memory.  (For comparison, the fastest system on this year’s Top 500 List, the K Computer at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science, in Kobe, Japan, cranks […]

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