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Doing the Supercomputer Shuffle

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IBM’s BlueGene/L system is still king of the supercomputing heap, according to the 28th list of the world’s 500 most
powerful supercomputers unveiled at the Supercomputing 2006 show in Tampa,
Fla. Tuesday.

BlueGene/L holds fast, while the rest of the Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers dance around.

The annual “TOP500” list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim,

BlueGene/L, a massive network of servers used to simulate nuclear testing,kept the top spot on the Top 500 list with a speed of
280.6 teraflops, or trillions of calculations per second.

But the top 10 spots on the list saw some interesting changes among
supercomputers, which are used to run anything from applications that
simulate weapons to software that computes biotechnology or pharmaceutical

IBM’s eServer Blue Gene Solution system was booted from the No. 2 slot by
the Cray Red Storm supercomputer as only the second system ever to zip past
the 100 teraflop barrier.

Used for nuclear arms and homeland security research at the Department of
Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories, Red Storm hit 101.4 teraflops. At
36.19 teraflops, the first Red Storm system was ranked No. 9 in the June
2006 edition of the Top 500 list.

IBM machines hold the next few spots.

The eServer Blue Gene Solution supercomputer, installed at IBM’s Thomas
Watson Research Center and used in weather modeling, bioinformatics and
text-to-speech research, landed in third place with a speed of 91.2

Blue Gene Solution knocked IBM’s ASC Purple, used in weapons performance
applications, from No. 3 to No. 4 with 75.76 teraflops.

The new No. 5 supercomputer is the IBM JS21 cluster. Installed at the
Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, the system reached 62.63 teraflops
and is used to run atmospheric, climate and molecular biology computations.

Sandia’s Thunderbird Dell PowerEdge system hit 53 teraflops, holding onto
the No. 6 spot. This machine also powers nuclear defense and homeland
security research.

The NovaScale 5160 system built by the French company Bull and installed at
France’s Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA) for national defense
slipped to No. 7 from No. 5 in June, despite a new measurement of 52.84

NASA’s Columbia SGI Altix system for aerospace research held the No. 8
position at 51.87 teraflops, sliding from No. 4.

An NEC cluster used for international cooperative research and education
took the No. 9 spot at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Based on Sun Fire
X4600 servers with Opteron processors, the system hit 47.38 teraflops.

The current No. 10 system is the upgraded Jaguar Cray XT3 system at DOE’s
Oak Ridge National Laboratory with 43.48 teraflops, which is more than
double its predecessor’s speed of 20.53 teraflops. This machine runs
calculations for basic energy sciences, biological and environmental
sciences and fusion energy.

NEC’s Earth Simulator, which held the No. 1 spot for five lists, has now
slipped out of the TOP 10 and is ranked at No. 14.

In other supercomputing trends of note, AMD Opteron machines are creeping up
on Intel machines, which comprised 261 systems of the 500 top systems
acknowledged by the list, down from 333 one year ago.

The AMD Opteron family passed the IBM Power processors and is now the second
most common processor family with 113 systems, up from 55 system one year
ago. IBM Power processors power 93 systems compared to 73 a year ago.

This article was originally published on

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