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TOP500 Supercomputer Sites For 2006 108

geaux writes to let us know about the release of the 28th TOP500 List of the world's fastest supercomputers. From the article: "The IBM BlueGene/L system, installed at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, retains the No. 1 spot with a Linpack performance of 280.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second, or Tflop/s). The new No. 2 systems is Sandia National Laboratories' Cray Red Storm supercomputer, only the second system ever to be recorded to exceed the 100 Tflops/s mark with 101.4 Tflops/s... Slipping to No. 3 is the IBM eServer Blue Gene Solution system, installed at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center, with 91.20 Tflops/s Linpack performance." You need over 6.6 Tflop/s to make it into the top 100.
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TOP500 Supercomputer Sites For 2006

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  • beowulf (Score:2, Funny)

    by thejrwr ( 1024073 )
    just beowulf 100 PS3s together, that should be able to pull it off
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TinyManCan ( 580322 )
      Shoot a couple of the Nvida G80 based GPUs should do the trick just as well :)
    • Re:beowulf (Score:4, Informative)

      by Laser Lou ( 230648 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:31PM (#16828102)
      just beowulf 100 PS3s together, that should be able to pull it off

      That's not how to say it. You are supposed to say "Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these?"
    • just beowulf 100 PS3s together, that should be able to pull it off

      Humor aside, I'm afraid some jackass would actually try this. First off, the PS3 doesn't support high-speed networks such as Myrinet or InfiniBand. And secondly, Sony is unlikely to ever provide support for any institution that uses a video game console in this manner, unlike IBM or Cray. I have a blog post [hpcanswers.com] specifically about this.

  • Real world examples (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone know of any real world examples that might give us a better understanding of how fast these things really are?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by thejrwr ( 1024073 )
      its about 1 billion p4 2.5ghz processors put together
      • by aliquis ( 678370 )
        Uhm, 1.5GHz P4 seems to be around 3 Gflops, so 2.5 is around 4.5 since the architecture suck ;)

        4.500.000.000 Gflops = 4.400.000 Tflops or around 15700 times faster than the #1 machine, but anyway...

        More like 63.000 2.5GHz P4s or so.
        • Wait what? I just got a fancy new AMD duel core CPU a few months ago, and you're saying they have systems out there that can outperform it by a magnitude of tens of thousands?

          Gosh. I knew my PC would be obsolete, but I didn't realize it would be this soon. I'll be out by the dumpster crying.
          • by 10Ghz ( 453478 )
            "I just got a fancy new AMD duel core CPU a few months ago..."

            Two cores enter, one core leaves! Two cores enter, one core leaves!
    • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:34PM (#16828152) Homepage
      Yeah, I can't really get a clear picture unless they put it into standard units, like Libraries of Congress, or VW Beatles... I think there's also one with stacks of stuff to the Moon - that's a good one too.
      • I think there's also one with stacks of stuff to the Moon - that's a good one too.

        Yeah, but how many Alaskan pipelines of data can it put out? That's the one that Ted Stevens uses. It's not just truckloads of tape, you know...

      • by gringer ( 252588 )
        If you were able to stand all the current and future potential PS3 players on each others head, stretching up towards the moon...

        most of them would die by asphyxiation.
        • Shotgun!*

          *Although I have no intention of buying a PS3 at the moment, it's always best to play it safe...
  • by DerekTomes ( 1024783 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:24PM (#16828006)
    ...but can it run Microsoft Word? :|
  • The way the article reads makes me feel sad for the "IBM eServer Blue Gene Solution system, installed at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center". It slipped to number three with a mere 91.20 Tflops/s. It's like the steam shovel in that children's book. Old and outdated, no one wants it anymore. Oh wait, it's still 1,800 times faster than my new Core Two Duo machine. Apparently I'm the one with the machine that works faster the more people watch it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Code Master ( 164951 )
      I'll bet that Blue Gene can also retire as a building's furnace as well.
      • I'll bet that Blue Gene can also retire as a building's furnace as well.


        The joke aside, in areas with district heating http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_heating [wikipedia.org] they sometimes also provide distric cooling so you just don't went excess heat away. In northern climates that can nice advantage since for datacenters/supercomputers/etc they often produce way more heat than they can could re-use in their own buildings

      • From http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/37/371.html [deadmedia.org]

        "While at Convex, a Texas-based supercomputer company, Steven Wallach, a computer designer, once used an Alliant supercomputer in his office as a conversation piece and as partial support for his desk. "But even Mr. Wallach (...) said he was surprised to learn that another Convex employee had bought a Convex C-1 for its scrap price and was using the computer to heat his garage."

    • by Intron ( 870560 )
      Very similar. At the end of the book, it was just used to heat a building.
  • hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 )
    I'll have to look through that list and find one near me so I can outsource my Vista booting.
  • by frisket ( 149522 ) <peterNO@SPAMsilmaril.ie> on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:34PM (#16828158) Homepage
    Is there a site for the slowest computers in the world? (My office workstation, for example :-)

    "The best cure for sea-sickness is to go and sit under a tree" -- Spike Milligan

  • Look out (Score:4, Funny)

    by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:35PM (#16828182)
    Sandia's supercomputer program, along with LANL's and all the weapon and nuke work done between the two is part of New Mexico's plan to take over the world ... mañana.
    • Ah, but LLNL [llnl.gov] != LANL [lanl.gov].
      • Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Note that I talked about Sandia and LANL being in New Mexico. LANL has their own supercomputer farms. No mention of LLNL because that would screw up the joke. Do you need any more explanation? Like what manana means?
  • by max99ted ( 192208 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:36PM (#16828188)
    ...No. 1 spot with a Linpack performance of 280.6 teraflops... new No. 2 system... 101.4 Tflops/s

    Anyone have any insight as to why the huge difference between the top two spots? It seems that the rest (3 -> down) are a lot closer in speeds...

    • I think it has something to do with how much money people are willing to spend on supercomputers.

      A lot of people are willing to throw down enough cash to get into the middle of that list, but there are only a few few people who are willing to spend the huge sums of money to build the biggest, baddest, fastest one of them all.

      It's like looking at cars, and saying "huh, if we look at the most expensive class of cars, they all do 200+ MPH, but once you get down past the top price class, they all start to get a
      • by Venik ( 915777 )
        Well, if all cars in that expensive class can go 200+ mph, still it would be very unusual to see one go almost 600mph. Here we have world's #2 supercomputer barely breaking 100tflops, and the world's #1 supercomputer pushing 300tflops. Quite a gap here.
        • by Surt ( 22457 )
          And yet, interestingly enough, there are in fact like 3 cars in the world that can go around 600mph.

    • by flaming-opus ( 8186 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:51PM (#16829562)
      Well #1 needs a lot of asterixes next to it. The Blue Gene architecture uses an increadible number of relatively underpowered compute nodes, each with relatively little memory, and strings them together into a cluster. It's a system architecture designed around VERY LOW COST. It works quite well for a few problems, but is difficult to use for many real world problems. Because it costs so little to build, those Department of Energy guys with the big pockets can build a VERY fast computer, at least on paper.

      #2 is a more general purpose supercomputer, with a better balance of processor count, processor performance, and memory. The DOE spent a LOT of money on this machine, and thus it has a very high level of performance.

      After that, you see a mix of high and low efficiency machines, but few people have the can fork over the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary for a machine that powerful. It's all about the $$$.

      I'll point out, however, that the Earth Simulator is still ranked #14, 5 years after it came on-line. Of course it also cost hundreds of millions of dollars at the time.
      • Interesting...thanks for the response. Another poster pointed out that the number of processors was higher on #1 than #2 and you've explained why there are a LOT more.
        • It is worth noting that blue gene and red storm are very similar architectures. Both are 3D torus topologies. Both use powerpc 440 coprocessors to handle communications on the interconnect. Both use a microkernel for compute nodes, and linux on i/o nodes, with lustre as the parallel filesystem. The only tangible difference is the compute node. In blue gene, it's a second 700mhz ppc 440 with 512MB of memory. In Red storm, it's a dual-core 2.4ghz opteron with 4GB of ram. The former uses a lot less electricity
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      Google for Zipf's law.

      That's how lots of things just seem to distribute themselves.

  • Linux is the operating system to use.

    Operating system Family: Linux
    Count: 376
    Share %: 75.20%
  • Password Cracker (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bender0x7D1 ( 536254 ) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:41PM (#16828278)
    We have #141 on the list at Iowa State and we booked time on it so it could be used as a password cracker at one of our Cyber Defense Competitions.

    I don't know if it actually got used, or if it was deemed "unfair" for the red team (attackers) to use it. It would have been pretty sweet if they were allowed to.

    These competitions are pretty cool, and have some pretty good challenges like the red team pulling the fire alarm at 3:00AM, forcing the blue team (defenders) to evacuate the building. More info can be found at the ISU Information Assurance Student Group website [iastate.edu], or the competition website. [iastate.edu]
    • There's little point in using a TOP500 machine for pw cracking. PW cracking is embarassingly parallel and has almost no communication -- you'd likely get better performance by just farming out a portion of the search space to each of N normal PCs (say, on your campus network) and have each report the results back to a central coordinator. TOP500 machines are best when used for applications that need coordination among all the processing nodes, and/or that do lots of data sharing among the processing nodes
      • I agree. However, we can't install password cracking software on even a single machine in our labs since it is a security risk. Installing it on the supercomputer is OK since no one else has access to it during that time period.

        Besides, if you had a TOP500 supercomputer sitting around, wouldn't you use it? Just for fun? Just for the nerd factor? Because you could?
    • by GreggBz ( 777373 )
      The ENIAC was the first real computer, you know.

      Of course, I'm kidding. Everyone should know this. [ameslab.gov] :-)
  • The current world champion supercomputer is in Japan. and is 3~4 times faster than the IBM Blue Gene/L system. See current issue of Popular Science for details.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hlimethe3rd ( 879459 )
      I assume that you're talking about the MDGRAPE machine that can do a petaflop. Actually, that machine is specialized for one type of calculation, thus it cannot run then LINPACK benchmark, and doesn't qualify for this list. It is not a general supercomputer. It's the same thing as claiming that a top-shelf GPU is faster than a top-shelf CPU: it's true for only a certain type of calculation.
  • Everyone here likes to make jokes about the Southern USA being dumb, but it's amazing how much computing power is there. Hell, Mississippi missed the top 100 by not-so-much. 115 Mississippi State University
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bathmatt ( 638217 )
      Mississippi missed the top 100 by not-so-much. 115 Mississippi State University You may wanna check that list again, Mississippi has 4 in the top 100, (#26,35,48,58) It is only behind in NM in TFlops/capita.

      To answer your question on why, Trent Lott.

      BTW, ERDC (WES at Vicksberg) and NAVO (Stennis Space Ctr on the coast) are in MS

      • are you in Mississippi?? Mississippi has been constantly in the top 10 or 15 year in and year in for total supercomputing power. i live in MS so thats why i ask. :)
    • by IvyMike ( 178408 )
      Everyone here likes to make jokes about the Southern USA being dumb, but it's amazing how much computing power is there. Hell, Mississippi missed the top 100 by not-so-much. 115 Mississippi State University

      Hell, that's a fast computer. Does it got a hemi?

    • Not surprising at all. Somone has sunk a lot of money into trying to figure out why wrestling and NASCAR are popular. But I don't think Moore's law is going to help, really. It has something to do with the M.Q. (Mullet Quotient) of the state, and may not be a computable question.

      I was going try for a Np joke, but I'm not smart enough, having gone to a public school in the south. Could someone help me out?
  • to the one, lonely Microsoft site? Seems like it dropped off the list. Anyone know the story?
  • For all the Apple fanboys (and gals) The fastest Apple system is COLSA at #28, with 3072 CPUs making 16180 Gflops, for 5.26 Gflops per CPU overall. Meanwhile, #1 BlueGene has 131072 CPUs making 280600 Gflops for 2.14 Gflop per CPU. Clearly, BlueGene is a piece of junk :)

      I wonder how much faster the Intel versions will be in comparison to the G5s...
    • I wonder how much faster the Intel versions will be in comparison to the G5s...

      Look at #20; it's almost identical to an Intel Xserve.
      • I wonder how much faster the Intel versions will be in comparison to the G5s...

        Look at #20; it's almost identical to an Intel Xserve.

        Did you notice #5? It's almost identical to a blade version of a G5 Xserve (but running SuSe Linux). Those PowerPC 970 processors still ain't bad for servers, even though Apple abandoned them.

        If anybody's curious, here's Barcelona Supercomputing Center's brief description of their system: MareNostrum System Architecture [www.bsc.es]

        MareNostrum uses 2560 IBM BladeCenter JS21 blad [ibm.com]

    • by Lussarn ( 105276 )
      Lets just hope they didn't invested in any Altivec code.
    • by clarkc3 ( 574410 )
      If you want to look at per cpu performance, look down around #69-70 and notice Hitachi has one that cranks out 112Gflop per CPU - seems the Apple and Intel ones both have a ways to go to catch up to that
  • is the one sitting in the NSA cracking all your passwords right now.
    • by geaux ( 876839 )
      I thought "translator" was fried.
      • Is it just me, or did you know the answer was three while all these smart idiots couldn't figure what the fuck the answer was.
    • A lot of what the NSA does is not floating-point math. In all likelihood, most of their needs are data-mining, automatic translation, and other database-intensive applications. I'm sure they have a lot of very expensive computers, but they may not be the kind that end up on the top500 list.

      Just today Cray pre-announced the XMT machine a href="http://www.cray.com/products/xmt/" which is the next generation of their machine for graph-tree algorithms. The product line has been basically funded by the NSA. It w
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ynsats ( 922697 )
        Don't be so sure of yourself. There are quite a few reasons for the government and military to need all kinds of computing power. Clustered super computers can come in handy for lots of things including simulations, software testing for many systems such as guidance systems and radar systems and even things as simple as artillary trajectories. You remember those problems right? The whole reason the computer widely accepted as the FIRST computer was ever built.

        Just because it doesn't seem to fit what we see
  • A billion dollars is too small for the Forbes 400 list and a teraflop is too smal for the SC500 list.
  • a beowulf cluster shooting you in the face?
  • by robyannetta ( 820243 ) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:36PM (#16829302) Homepage
    You need over 6.6 Tflop/s to make it into the top 100.

    ...or three PS3s, but I don't forsee any one of us getting our hands on at least one of these for a few months...

  • I find this list amazing simply in sheer numbers on it. But I'm called to question the nature of whether he who has the most money wins the contest or not. I mean #1 on the list has five times the number of processors that #2 does for less than 3 times the Tfops. I'm not a super computer clustering genius, the largest system I've worked on is the Aeroshark Linux System and NASA GRC ~128 nodes, but doesn't it just boil down to who can spend the most money to put the largest system together?

    How bout some K
    • Well, what Hitachi calls a processor, in the SR11000 series of computers, is actually made up of 8 IBM power processors. They use some special syncronization hardware to make it act like a big vector processor. Thus, if you want the cpu count to actually measure the number of chips, multiply their processor counts by 8. It's sort of the reverse of multi-core.

      You are correct that the absolute number of processors does not always indicate how fast the real problem gets solved. For tasks that don't parallelize
  • Just like "ATM machine" and "CMA awards". Maybe Intel is behind this mistake - you can only get TFLOP Squared performance with a core 2 duo double dual thingy. Or perhaps they really are measuring how fast you can ramp your workload from 0 to X TFLOPS because of all the computing-on-demand hype?
    • No, it's right. The processing power of these systems is actually increasing at that rate. Every second, BlueGene/L is able to do 280.6 trillion floating point operations more than it could do the previous second.

  • Nuclear weapon simulation. Err, sorry, "to increase the understanding of enduring stockpile." http://www.nv.doe.gov/nationalsecurity/stewardship /default.htm [doe.gov]
  • I know this isn't a fair comparison but the SETI@Home grid runs at 250 TeraFLOPS. Many of the other massive distributed computing projects run far into the Top 500 as well. reference [boincstats.com]
    • by jemecki ( 661581 )
      D'oh! The SETI@Home grid is actually only the SECOND fastest supercomputer. I should've read the f* summary.
  • If you look at the operating systems statistics [top500.org], you can clearly see that the war is over and Linux has won :-)
    • Completely different architectures. Linux for one type, Unix for the other. I prefer the unix any day of the week. Many problems I work on cannot be done on the clusters. You are referring to different battles.
  • You need over 6.6 Tflop/s to make it into the top 100.

    Only 6.6 TFLOPS? I'll get right on that.
  • You need over 6.6 Tflop/s to make it into the top 100.

    So where does that put Billy Crystal?

    - RG>
  • You need over 6.6 Tflop/s to make it into the top 100.
    Then they forgot my botfarm! arggghhhh
  • Hmm, I think that's right around the projected minimum specs for Neverwinter Nights 3.
  • Im sitting right next to number 54 right now and number 30 will be here in a couple months..

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.