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Sequoia secures IBM's comeback in Top 500 computers

Posted: 19 Jun 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IBM? Sequoia? K computer? Gigabit Ethernet technology?

IBM Corp. has made a comeback and once again leads the latest edition of the list of the world's Top 500 supercomputers. The company's Sequoia supercomputer, a 16.32 petaflops system packing more than 1.5 million custom Power cores, dethroned Fujitsu's K computer as the fastest computer in the world. It is based on the same IBM BlueGene/Q architecture used in three other top ten systems, which also were the most power efficient on the list.

Installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sequoia consumes a whopping 7.89 MW of power, second only to the K Computer, which gulps 12.65 MW. Nevertheless the BlueGene/Q architecture is the most power efficient on the list delivering 2,099 Mflops/Watt.

IBM has had early versions of its BlueGene architecture for specialized government lab systems hit first place on the Top 500 list. Sequoia runs complex simulations to test readiness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

The BlueGene/Q architecture also drives the third most powerful computer on the list, the Mira system at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Mira delivers 8.15 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark using 786,432 of the IBM custom cores.

Italy makes its debut in the top ten at number seven with a 1.69 pflops BlueGene/Q system installed at Cineca, a consortium of 54 Italian universities. The other BlueGene/Q is the JuQueen ranked at number eight and installed at Germany's Forschungszentrum Juelich research institute.

IBM also powered the number four system on the list hitting 2.8 pflops. The SuperMUC system uses an IBM iDataplex design with Intel Sandy Bridge processors installed at Leibniz Rechenzentrum in Germany.

Big Blue retained its position is the leading vendor on the Top 500 list with 213 systems (42.6 percent of the total) compared to Hewlett-Packard with 138 systems (27.6 percent). Cray, Appro, SGI and Bull follow with 5.4 percent, 3.6 percent, 3.2 percent, and 3.2 percent respectively.

In terms of performance, IBM took a big leap forward. It is now responsible for 47.6 percent of the performance of Top 500 systems (up from 27.3 percent). HP and Fujitsu share the second place with 9.9 percent down from 13.1 and 14.7 percent respectively. Cray follows in third place with 8.9 percent down from 14.3 percent.

Twenty systems on the current list now break the petaflops barrier. Roadrunner, the first system to hit more than a petaflop in June 2008, is now listed at number 19.

Intel CPUs, Infiniband hold sway
IBM's surge forward with BlueGene/Q on the current list came at Intel's expense.

Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest share (74.2 percent or 372 systems) of top 500 systems. That's down from 384 systems (76.8 percent) on the version of the list posted six months ago.

Intel's Westmere processors made up the largest chunk of those CPUs, appearing in 246 systems, up from 240 in the last list. Intel's newer SandyBridge chips jumped to use in 44 systems, up from ten six months ago.

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