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Welcome to the Petaflop Club: Supercomputing’s Top 500 Milestone

Intel, Lenovo dominate...

By CBR Staff Writer

The latest Top 500 supercomputers list reveals that for the first time ever, all entrants deliver a petaflop or more on the High Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark, with the entry level to the list now at 1.022 petaflops. (That’s nearly double last June’s figure, when there were 272 petaflop-scale supercomputers on the Top 500 list.)

(A petaflop is one thousand trillion, or one quadrillion, operations per second. The most powerful supercomputer on the list can, theoretically, make as many calculations in one second as approximately 6.3 billion people could together in a year.)

There were two new entries in the top 10 in June’s list; one an existing system that was upgraded with additional capacity. China claims the most TOP500 systems, with 219, followed by the US with 116. Japan is in third place with 29 systems, followed by France, with 19, the United Kingdom, with 18, and Germany with 14.

Two IBM-built supercomputers, Summit and Sierra retain the first two positions on the list. Both derive their computational power from IBM’s Power 9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs. Frontera, the only new supercomputer in the top 10, attained its number five ranking by delivering 23.5 petaflops on HPL. The Dell C6420 system, powered by Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processors, is installed at the University of Texas.

Over a third of the list is still Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4-powered systems. Some 63 percent of the list is Intel Xeon Scalable families, with IBM Power taking a single system.

Among the standout companies on the list was China’s Lenovo, which has the most systems on the list: an impressive 173. It was followed by China’s Inspur with 71, and Sugon, with 63.  All three improved on their system share from six months ago.

Read this: HPE Buys Cray for $1.3 Billion

HPE, with 40 systems, and Cray, with 39 systems, occupy fourth and fifth place, respectively. Bull, as the only European-based system vendor on the list, claims 21 systems, followed by Fujitsu, with 13, and IBM, with 12.

The Sunway TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, holds the number three position with 93.0 petaflops. It’s powered by more than 10 million SW26010 processor cores.

Intel chips appeared in 95.6 percent of all systems. IBM Power CPUs are in seven systems, followed by AMD processors, which are present in three systems. A single supercomputer on the list, Astra, is powered by Arm processors. A total of 133 systems on the TOP500 list employ accelerator or coprocessor technology, down slightly from 138 six months ago. Of these, 122 systems use NVIDIA GPUs.

See also: Arm Claws Its Way onto Top 500 Supercomputers List, while NVIDIA Rises

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