Feeds

Top 500 supers - rise of the Linux quad-cores

Jaguar munches Roadrunner

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

SC09 Looking at the semi-annual Top 500 list of supercomputers, you would never know the world was battling recession. Supercomputer centers keep chucking out old tech and rolling in new tech at the same feverish pace.

The fall edition of the list was announced this morning at the SC09 supercomputing trade show in Portland, Oregon. The single biggest transition in the list is the move to quad-core - and in some notable cases, six-core - processors inside supercomputing systems. And most of the machines on the list now run Linux with x64 processors.

The key differences between machines are what network interconnects and topologies are deployed and what adjunct processing elements (if any) are used to boost the performance of the central processors in server nodes. The differences are substantial enough for specific workloads to keep a whole bunch of HPC suppliers busy at a time in the market when you think there might be two suppliers left.

According to the techies who put together the Top 500 rankings - Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee - there are 427 machines that have quad-core processors. Intel's "Nehalem-EP" Xeon 5500 processors have tripled their presence on the Top 500 list, to 95 machines, up from 33 in the June 2009 rankings and zip in the November 2008 rankings because the Xeon 5500s came a little later than expected to market in March of this year. (El Reg detailed those two prior Top500 lists here and there).

Intel is the main chip supplier in 402 of the 500 machines that made the cut this time around, and 380 of those are using quad-core processors of one generation or another. Unlike AMD's current line of quad-core "Shanghai" and six-core "Istanbul" processors, which plug into existing Rev F system boards, Intel's Xeon 5500s require a box swap from the prior Xeon 5300 "Clovertown" and Xeon 5400 "Harpertown" series.

There are 42 machines on the list using AMD's processors and 52 using IBM's Power processors, both losing a little ground since the June 2009 ranking. Dual-core processors are still in use on 59 machines (all of the Power5 and Power6 supers on the list are using dual-core chips), and there are only four machines that employ single-core processors in their cluster nodes.

But AMD is still pretty pumped, and for a number of reasons. First of all, after trying to outrun IBM's hybrid "Roadrunner" Opteron-Cell massively parallel blade server at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the past several lists, the "Jaguar" all-Opteron XT5 box made by Cray and installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has pounced upon Roadrunner and pulled out some flesh and spit out some feathers.

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: Juiced Jaguar

More from The Register

next story
Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything
Enter credit card details if you want that system you bought to actually be useful
HP busts out new ProLiant Gen9 servers
Think those are cool? Wait till you get a load of our racks
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts
Samba implementation? Time to get some devs on the job
Like condoms, data now comes in big and HUGE sizes
Linux Foundation lights a fire under storage devs with new conference
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.