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Supercomputing Power Stagnates as Tianhe-2's Speed Remains Unchallenged

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted July 13, 2015

In most areas of technology, there is a constant pace of evolution and progression, but that doesn't seem to be happening in the Supercomputing space lately.

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The June 2015 edition of the Top500 Supercomputer list is now out, and once again the top speed is 33.86 petaflops, which is achieved by China's Titan Supercomputer National University of Defense Technology's Tianhe-2 supercomputer.

While that's an impressive figure, the Tianhe-2 first hit number one on the Top500 list in June of 2013, with the exact same performance numbers. This means that in the last two years there has been zero improvement in the top speed of the world's fastest supercomputer.

Looking beyond the number one slot, the Cray Titan once again came in second place at 17.59 petaflops. The Cray Titan held the number one spot on the top500 supercomputer list back in November of 2012. At that time, Titan was reported to also have performance of 17.59 petaflop/s.

According to the Top500 list, nine of the systems in the top ten were installed in either 2011 or 2012, marking the lowest turnover rate in new supercomputers on the top500 list since 2008.

There is only a single new entry on the top 10 list, with the Cray XC40 'Shaheen II' system cracking the list in the number seven slot at 5.536 petaflops. The Shaheen II is located in Saudi Arabia at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

One other area that has changed very little in the last year on the Top500 list is the number of Linux-based systems. In June 2014, the Top500 list reported that 485 out of 500 systems were using Linux, and now in June 2015 that number has grown by one to 486 out of 500.

While there is little movement at the top of the Top500 list, there has been significant overall performance gains on the list as a whole. The combined performance of all the systems on the Top500 list for June 2015 came in at 363 petaflops, which is a marked gain over the 274 petaflops of all systems on the June 2014 list.

Where once a single petaflop of performance was a rare occurrence, on the June 2015 Top500 list there are now 68 systems reported to possess one petaflop or higher, up from 50 in the November.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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