China’s New Supercomputer is Tops

June 17, 2013

Today, at the opening session of the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany, the latest update (the 41st version) to the Top 500 list of supercomputers was announced, and a new Chinese system, the Tianhe-2, has taken first place honors.  The system achieved performance of 33.86 petaflops per second (3.386 × 1016 floating point operations per second) on the LINPACK benchmark; the Tianhe-2 (in English, Milky Way-2) will be deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, by the end of the year. The system has 16,000 nodes, each with multiple Intel processors, for a total of 3,120,000 processor cores.

The Titan system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ranked number 1 in the November, 2012 list, and the Sequoia system, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, previously ranked number 2, have both moved down one place, to number 2 and number 3, respectively.  The two system are still noteworthy as being among the most energy-efficient in use.  Titan delivers 2,143 Megaflops/Watt, and Sequoia 2,031.6 Megaflops/Watt.

The total capacity of the list has continued to grow quickly.

The last system on the newest list was listed at position 322 in the previous TOP500 just six months ago.  The total combined performance of all 500 systems has grown to 223 petaflop/sec, compared to 162 petaflop/sec six months ago and 123 petaflop/sec one year ago.

You can view the top ten systems, and the complete list, at this page.

First Petaflop Computer to be Retired

March 31, 2013

I’ve posted notes here about the Top500 project, which publishes a semi-annual list of the world’s fastest computer systems, most recently following the last update to the list, in November 2012.

An article at Ars Technica reports that the IBM Roadrunner system, located at the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, will be decommissioned and, ultimately, dismantled.  The Roadrunner was the first system whose performance exceeded a petaflop (1 petaflop = 1 × 1015 floating point operations per  second).  It held the number one position on the Top 500 list from June, 2008 through June 2009; it was still ranked number two in November, 2009.  The Roadrunner system contained 122,400 processor cores in 296 racks, covering about 6,000 square feet.  It was one of the first supercomputer systems to use a hybrid processing architecture, employing both IBM PowerXCell 8i CPUs  and AMD Opteron dual-core processors

The system is being retired, not because it is too slow, but because its appetite for electricity is too big.   In the November 2012 Top 500 list, Roadrunner is ranked at number 22, delivering 1.042 petaflops and consuming 2,345 kilowatts of electricity.  The system ranked as number 21, a bit faster at 1.043 petaflops, required less than half the power, at 1,177 kilowatts.

It will be interesting to see how the list shapes up in June, the next regular update.

Oak Ridge Powers Up Titan

October 29, 2012

The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL] announced the start-up of a new supercomputer, called Titan, today.   The new machine, which is likely to displace the Sequoia computer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the world’s fastest supercomputer, has been in the works for two years.

Performance of these systems is 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 Sequoia, ranked fastest in the world in June of this year, achieved over 16 petaflops (1.6 × 1016 flops); the new Titan system is rated at 27 petaflops (2.7 × 1016 flops).

The Titan system uses a hybrid architecture that includes both conventional 16-core Opteron 6274 CPUs, and NVIDIA Tesla K-20 GPUs.  It has a total of 18,688 compute nodes, each containing a GPU and a CPU, for a total of 299.008 CPU cores.  The system also has more than 700 terabytes ( 7 × 1014 bytes) of memory.  (Apparently 640KB is no longer enough for anyone.)  The hybrid architecture results in better energy efficiency; Titan gets about ten times the performance of its predecessor at ORNL, the Jaguar, at less than 30% more electricity consumption.  It is, however, rather large, requiring 4,352 square feet of floor space.

James Hack, Director of ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences, said “Titan will allow scientists to simulate physical systems more realistically and in far greater detail. The improvements in simulation fidelity will accelerate progress in a wide range of research areas such as alternative energy and energy efficiency, the identification and development of novel and useful materials and the opportunity for more advanced climate projections.”

The ORNL press release is here.

Top 500: Sequoia is Number One

June 18, 2012

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 latest version of the list has just been released, in conjunction with the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference, currently being held in Hamburg, Germany.  The top system this time is the Sequoia system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which clocked in at over 16 petaflops (16 × 1015 flops):

For the first time since November 2009, a United States supercomputer sits atop the TOP500 list of the world’s top supercomputers. Named Sequoia, the IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved an impressive 16.32 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores.

The Japanese K-RIKEN system, ranked number 1 in the November 2011 Top-500 list, is now ranked second.  Ranked third is the Mira system at the Argonne National Laboratory, an IBM BlueGene/Q system with 786,432 processing cores, running at 8.15 petaflops.  The Chinese Tianhe-1A system, ranked second in November 2011 with 2.57 petaflops, is now ranked number 5.  The total capacity of the entire list is now 123.4 petaflops, compared with 74.2 in November.

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 462 92.4
Unix 24 4.8
BSD-based 1 0.2
Windows 2 0.4
Mixed 11 2.2

Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop OS market clearly does not cut much ice in this area.

You can see the complete list here.

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