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U.S. Supercomputers Lead Latest Top500 Performance Ranking

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted November 12, 2018


The latest semi-annual Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers was released on Nov. 12, with the U.S. holding down the top two spots overall.

The IBM POWER9-based Summit system has retained its crown that it first earned in the June 2018 ranking. Summit is installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now sustains performance of 143.5 petaflops per second, up from the 122.3 petaflops the system had when it first came online.IBM Summit Supercomputer

The IBM POWER9 Sierra system also improved over the last six months and is now the second most powerful system on the planet at 94.6 petaflops, up from 71.6 petaflops six months ago.

Prior to Summit and Sierra coming online, the most powerful supercomputer in the U.S. was the Cray XK7 Titan, which is also at Oak Ridge National Lab. Titan now sustains 17.6 petaflops of power, making it the ninth most power system in the world today.

China vs. the U.S.

Though China doesn't hold the top spot on the list, it now has more supercomputers than any other nation with 227. In contrast, there are now only 109 systems on the Top500 list that are located in the United States, which is an all time low.

That said, thanks to the enormous power of Summit and Sierra at the top, the U.S. is home to 38 percent of the total aggregate supercomputing power on the top500 list, while China's systems account for 31 percent.

Vendors Behind the Top500 Supercomputers

The vendors supplying the hardware behind the Top500 supecomputers are also somewhat mixed. While IBM dominates the top of the list with Sierra and Summit, overall, it's Lenovo that is the leader in terms of total systems with 140.

"Last year, we set a goal to become the world’s largest provider of TOP500 computing systems by 2020. We have reached that goal two years ahead of our original plan," Kirk Skaugen, President of Lenovo Data Center Group, wrote in a statement. "We are motivated every day by the scientists and their groundbreaking research as we work together to solve humanity’s greatest challenges."

Another vendor that is seeing its technology more widely used than ever before is NVIDIA. 127 of the top 500 systems now have an NVIDIA GPU accelerator, up from 86 in 2017.

"With the end of Moore's Law, a new HPC market has emerged, fueled by new AI and machine learning workloads," Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA, wrote in a statement. "These rely as never before on our high performance, highly efficient GPU platform to provide the power required to address the most challenging problems in science and society."

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

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