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Supercomputing Hardware

25th TOP500 List Released 274

Chris Vaughan writes "The 25th edition of the TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers was released today (June 22, 2005) at the 20th International Supercomputing Conference (ISC2005) in Heidelberg Germany. The No. 1 position was again claimed by the previously mentioned BlueGene/L System. At present, IBM and Hewlett-Packard sell the bulk of systems at all performance levels of the TOP500. The U.S is clearly the leading consumer of HPC systems with 294 of the 500 systems installed there (up from 267 six months ago)."
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25th TOP500 List Released

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  • Obvious Link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by yellowbkpk ( 890493 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:11PM (#12882187)
    The list can be found here: []
  • Links are Fun (Score:3, Informative)

    by TPIRman ( 142895 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:12PM (#12882193)
    And here's a link to the actual list []. Also interesting is the historical chart of the TOP500 by manufacturer [], which tells a story in itself -- the decline of Cray and rise of IBM and Hitachi, for one.
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:15PM (#12882215)
    You'd think that it would be a good idea to actually link [] to the html list [], or the xml list [], or the pretty charts [].

    The press release [] is interesting too.
  • Derived Moore's Law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OlivierB ( 709839 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:17PM (#12882239)
    It would be great if we could verify Moore's law through some simple stats using the histrical data from this Top500 list.
    -For example:How many years did it take for Number ones on average to be dropped off the 500 list?

    - How many years after the list was published did it take personal computers tu make it in the 500list? To make it to the number 1 spot?

    - How many transistors did these computers have? Did it verify Moore's law?

    - Are we getting more TFLOPS per watt now? Per transistor?

    • Maybe we should measure computer performance in more practical terms. Maybe it should be a function of input and output. For how much work the user puts in, how much work does the computer put out? That is the real point of computing, having a machine do work for us, so perhaps it would help to measure power in more concrete terms.
      • That is the real point of computing, having a machine do work for us,

        Dude, are you high? Everyone knows the real point of computing is playing games and viewing pornography.
      • How do you measure the "output" of computers in terms that actually make sense from a practical perspective, though?

        That's opening a whole can of worms really. A computer is just a tool, and this kind of measurement is simply not possible. As another example, take a screwdriver - pretty much anyone would agree that it's a tool that makes life easier, but you simply can't measure the output of a screwdriver.

        Computers are similar, and the reason for that is that while computers are machines that process dat
    • It would be great if we could verify Moore's law through some simple stats using the histrical data from this Top500 list.
      That would be nearly impossible - Moore's Law applies to individual IC chips only, and the various machines contain wildly verying numbers of chips/cpu's/etc...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why is my beowulf of Mac Mini's not in the list?
  • No PS3? (Score:3, Funny)

    by 0kComputer ( 872064 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:19PM (#12882254)
    How can this be? I thought it was running at 2+ Terraflops. Didn't anyone watch E3?

    • Re:No PS3? (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 )
      You see, the PS3 runs so fast that it actually broke the light barrier, travelled back in time, and made last year's list.


    • OK, I do realize that you're just joking, but it's actually an interesting question, so here are some thoughts:

      1. The PS3 isn't out yet.
      2. The top500 lists does NOT go and look for systems that should/could/might be included - rather, you have to submit benchmark results yourself. I assume they do check them, of course, but as long as you don't approach them about it, you could have the fastest system in the world, and you'd still not get listed if you didn't submit benchmark results (incidentally, this me
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:21PM (#12882281)
    And at position #501, OSX running on an Intel processor. Hey, Steve promised it would be fast.
  • Are any of these supercomputers rated for testing BT bandwidth limits.... or making a website /. proof?
  • surprsing to me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by udderly ( 890305 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:23PM (#12882304)
    What's surprising to me is that Cray used to be synonymous with supercomputers and they now have comparatively few entries.
    • Re:surprsing to me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:50PM (#12882546) Homepage
      What's surprising to me is that Cray used to be synonymous with supercomputers and they now have comparatively few entries.

      Why is that suprising in any way? At one time, Ford was synonymous with cars, but today have news of Ford laying off managers. IBM used to be synonymous with the desktop PC, but with the sale of their laptop division are now completely out of the market. Sony Walkman was synonymous with portable music, but now everyone has an iPod.

      Cray is just another company that had a great product for a while, but couldn't keep innovating and couldn't keep up when the competition joined the market. Nothing at all suprising about it, it happens all the time.

    • Re:surprsing to me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by k98sven ( 324383 )
      What's surprising to me is that Cray used to be synonymous with supercomputers and they now have comparatively few entries.

      Cray still makes some of the fastest supercomputers around. They do not, however, make supercomputing clusters, which this list includes.

      So you're comparing rather different things. And it's an important difference since not all computing tasks can be parallelized.
  • I've been cheated! :(
  • Why do some machines acheive close to 90% of their theoretical max (Rpeak), while others get only about 50%? Is it communications bandwidth that makes all the difference?
    • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Informative)

      by CardiganKiller ( 854899 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:47PM (#12882519)
      It all depends on the system architecture and the type of problem being solved. Certain problems will adhere better to certain architectures and thus allow for a smaller gap between the theoretical and actual performance. The gaps can also be inherent in the architecture itself (e.g. communications bandwidth like you said).
      • Uh, for purposes of Top 500 List classification, they are all solving the same problem -- the High Performance Linpack benchmark (solving a system of simultaneous equations via Gaussian elimination with array pivoting). Granted, I beleive some variance in the size of the arrays is allowed, giving more massively parallel machines that can handle larger arrays an advantage.
  • by javaxman ( 705658 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:34PM (#12882405) Journal
    BlueGene/L max linpack: 136800
    Earth Simulator ( #3 on the list ) : 51870

    The #1 linpack score is well over twice the #3 linpack score ?!?

    That fact combined with the large number of IBM-based systems on the to 100 list really makes it look like IBM is dominating this sector of the market.

    You know what data is always missing from this list that we'd all like to see ? The cost of the systems. Although, I suppose if you're looking at building the most powerful computer system on the planet, cost might not be your first consideration...

    • What I want to see is the list of ongoing costs. I see a tun of PIV's on the list but I wonder how much more it costs to use those PIV's say Athlon 64's ect. Every extra watt adds up.

      At ~10c per kilowatt hour * 95% uptime = 0.83$ / watt per CPU / year.
      So ~100w CPU * 65,000 CPU's * 3 years * 2 (AC costs) = around 3.2 mill on energy costs.

      Not that I expect them to dump the system in 3 years but the energy costs to run a system like that stop being worth it after a few years and then it's time to upgra
    • When the Earth Simulator first hit the list is was as fast as the #2-#5 machines combined and was almost five times faster than the number two entry.
  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:36PM (#12882425) Homepage
    Here's a list of things I would do if I had access to one of the systems on that list:

    - See how long it takes Windows ME to boot
    - See how long it takes pico to open
    - run 'top'
    - play a wicked ass game of pong
    - bitch about having so many CPU's and only 2 USB ports
    - see if I could get a video card with dual display support
    - fire up a spreadsheet and make a wicked ass multiplication table going really far (like 10X10!) /had an original IBM PC // bored
  • Wrong criterion? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:40PM (#12882453)
    MareNostrum wins hands down for best looking computer room []/
  • AMD on the list. (Score:4, Informative)

    by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @01:40PM (#12882458)
    For you rabid fanbois (like me) here is how AMD scored:

    Rank Site Country/Year Computer /Processors Manufacturer Rmax Rpeak
    10 Sandia National Laboratories
    11 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    31 Shanghai Supercomputer Center
    32 Los Alamos National Laboratory
    33 Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
    39 US Army Research Laboratory (ARL)
    46 Grid Technology Research Center, AIST
    57 Swiss Scientific Computing Center (CSCS)
    75 DOE/Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory
    76 DOE/Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory
    109 The University of Nottingham
    144 Automotive Manufacturer (F)
    155 Los Alamos National Laboratory
    156 Government
    167 Universitaet Wuppertal
    174 United Institute of Informatics Problems
    244 DaimlerChrysler
    300 Veritas DGC
    306 Ford Motor Company
    347 Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
    348 Japan Adv. Inst. of Science and Technology (JAIST)
    388 Umea University / HPC2N
    490 Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing
    499 Doshisha University
  • more than half of the top 500 runs on Intel processors, including 77 on Itanium, the rest essentially Xeon, and that's versus 25 AMDs and a quickly fading Alpha.
  • This is the first year the minimum computer speed exceeds a teraflop. Perhaps we sho now define a sumpercomputer as ten sustained teraflops because nineteen have this speed on LINPACK.
  • With all the more pressing issues for which supercomputers can be used, I don't believe that China is using the 18th fastest computer [] for weather forecasts. At least not the ones they publish in Xinhua [], anyway. Is there any verifiable way to tell what that machine really does?
    • [...] I don't believe that China is using the 18th fastest computer for weather forecasts.

      Why not? Weather forecasts *do* require lots of number crunching power, and when you've got a big country with more than a billion citizens, then I'd say that there's sound economic reasons why you want good and accurate forecasts, too.

      Or do you know something we don't? I wouldn't be *surprised* if it turned out that China (a dictatorship, after all) really did use the system for more sinister purposes, but I'm

      • Because they don't have a supercomputer listed higher, or anywhere in that range, applied to nuclear research. Either weapons, or power. Which is a higher priority for the Chinese government than weather research. In fact, I can't find any Chinese supercomputer which looks like it's the one (or among the ones) they use for nuclear research. That's the kind of paranoia trigger known as "conspicuously absent".
        • That's a good point. However, looking through the FAQ for the top500 list, it seems as if the list editors only include systems that data is submitted for, anyway.

          So, in other words, I'd say it's likely that China (as well as several other countries, most likely including the USA) *does* have faster systems which simply aren't included in the list at all, which in turn makes it more likely again that the one that *is* included is indeed used for the purpose given - weather forecasts / research.

          Thinking ab
          • No, your analysis is reasonable. My analysis is paranoid: there are more people thinking about secret Chinese supercomputers, and their security threat, in this thread, than in Bush's cabinet, or anywhere in the White House - or Congress, for that matter.
            • Oh, I wouldn't go *that* far - even a million Slashdot readers couldn't possibly be as paranoid as Dubya's administration.

              Or at least not when it comes to China.
              • Actually, I don't think Dubya is protecting us from China any more than required for appearances. His policies have boosted China's economy at our expense. His blown Korea policies have strengthened China's hand. He's let Sudan off the genocide hook, while Sudan sells all its oil to China. Even little details show Dubya to be in China's corner: the Republican eVoting programmer in Florida, who blew the whistle on the FL Republican Representative who requested the eVoting security cracks, says the go-between
  • Misleading rankings (Score:2, Informative)

    by 0xABADC0DA ( 867955 )
    These ranking are based on LINPACK doing traditional operations like solving linear equations, so supercomputers like the Cray MTA [] aren't even listed even though for some grand challenges they destroy everything else, for example when doing dynamic mesh weather simluations. Each processor on the memory grid has 128 processor threads where the active thread switches every cycle (so memory fetch has huge latency). This lets it have a unified memory model and still have extremely high throughput.

    So the MTA
    • And it happens plenty on "traditional" supercomputers. That's why you stick a fast interconnect on them, like myrinet or infiniband and don't use just ethernet (which some of the high machines there do).

      Given that your mesh isn't going to morph that fast in most physics codes (that may not be true for weather codes), you can afford to just run static and then pause every few (minutes, hours, days) and re-work your mesh to adapt to changing conditions.

      Further, there's plenty of techniques to hide network l
  • Supercomputer #72 [], at the Chinese Academy of Science, comes from Lenovo. I wonder how far ahead IBM's sale of its "PC" business to Lenovo has put China's computing industry. And I wonder just what kinds of simulations [] they actually run on the beast.
  • Does anyone else think it's wierd that a graphic design company like Animal Logic [] has 2 of the top 500 supercomputers? Or whatever they call Gaming Company B in China, with the 2.2TFLOPS at each of #150, 151 & 153, or their Taiwanese counterpart at #152?
  • How can linux have the top spot it does not have the ever so important utility dtrace.
  • No, not today, in 1993 the Top box was a Thinking Machines CM-5 with Rmax = 59.7 amd Rpeak=131

    So, what's a current generation desktop proc return?
  • by stienman ( 51024 ) <<adavis> <at> <>> on Wednesday June 22, 2005 @03:30PM (#12883630) Homepage Journal
    The U.S is clearly the leading consumer of HPC systems with 294 of the 500 systems installed there

    And we'd bomb anyone who tried to pass us back into the stone age, since the only reason to have a computer this powerful is obviously for nuclear simulations.

    Of course, we prefer to simply stay in the lead, but when all else fails trip the other racer.

    Now, where is that incendiary protection suit - I get the impression I'll need it soon...

    • Re:Isn't it obvious? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afidel ( 530433 )
      Hmm, we have:
      1)bomb research
      2)proof of concept
      3)aeronautics research
      4)climatology research
      5)general science research
      6)astronomy research
      7)bomb research
      8)biology research
      9)computer science research
      10)bomb research

      So, unlike five years ago most of the large supercomputers (published on the list) are used for scientific research rather than making and maintaining big bombs. Personally I'd say that's real progress, but I have to thank the government for keeping the industry going through what were otherwise so
  • IBM and Hewlett-Packard sell the bulk of systems at all performance levels of the TOP500.

    You forgot SGI (I've counted 10 SGIs in TOP 100, including #3).

  • Top 10 observation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MirrororriM ( 801308 )
    I didn't bother going any further than the top 10, but when asked by a co-worker "wow...none are running Windows and most are using Linux"...and not to sound like a total linux geek or windows basher, but none of the top 10 are running windows. Reason: Microsoft charges much more for multiple processor support for their OS.

    BlueGene/L - eServer Blue Gene Solution Livermore, United States Processors: 65536

    It would astronomically increase the cost of the cluster. Windows 2003 Enterprise edition only han

  • God, this makes me miss *lisp and my CM-2. With supercomputing being taken over by Big Blue and the like, there seems little room anymore for the smaller, more flexible players like Thinking Machines [].

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.