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Top 500 Supercomputers List Shows IBM A Big Winner

Two of IBM's experimental Blue Gene supercomputers are among the world's 10 fastest, and nearly half of the world's 500 fastest computers now exceed 1 trillion calculations per second, according to the latest version of a closely watched survey released Monday.

According to the newest edition of the semi-annual Top 500 list compiled by a group of German and American academics, two prototype IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputers rank as the world's fourth- and eighth-fastest. Japan's Earth Simulator still ranks as the world's fastest computer, but a new Intel-based system at Lawrence Livermore National Lab is now second-fastest. The results of the survey were released at the International Supercomputer Conference in Heidelberg, Germany. The Earth Simulator, a climate-modeling computer in Yokohama, Japan, built with specialized vector processors, clocked in at 35.86 trillion floating point operations per second, or teraflops"far and away the world's fastest. No. 2 on the list is now Lawrence Livermore Lab's "Thunder," which uses Intel's Itanium chips and runs at 19.94 teraflops. Supplied by California Digital Corp., a small systems integrator, it displaces Los Alamos National Lab's 13.88 teraflops ASCI Q system from Hewlett-Packard, which fell to No. 3.

More than half of the computers in the Top 500"287"use Intel processors, vs. 119 a year ago. Hewlett-Packard supplies 28% of the machines on the list. IBM systems now account for nearly 45% of the Top 500, or 224 machines, vs. 199 a year ago.

IBM's Blue Gene/L computers, which use thousands of low-powered microprocessors and can achieve extremely fast computational speeds while consuming relatively little power, are shooting up the list of the world's fastest machines. A Blue Gene/L system at IBM in Rochester, Minn., rated at 11.68 teraflops is the world's fourth fastest, according to the survey. No. 8 on the list is an 8.65 teraflops system at IBM's Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. IBM says a Blue Gene/L system being assembled at Lawrence Livermore Lab will be the world's fastest computer when it's completed next year, clocking in at 64 teraflops. In other highlights from the latest Top 500, Asian countries are adding more systems to the list. In addition to the Earth Simulator, Japan has 34 systems in the top 500, and other Asian countries have an additional 55. In addition, the first Chinese supercomputer is among the world's 10 fastest. An 8.06 teraflops system assembled by Chinese systems integrator Dawning, at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, ranks No. 10.