Top500 founders talk big
K Computer Tops Competition by 3x
As many of you know by now, there’s a new computer at the tippy top of the just-published Top500 list. I found out a bit earlier than most, via a webcast I was recording at 3:00 a.m. my local time on Sunday.
It was a bit of a struggle to record it; their net connection kept breaking, and the sound quality on my side was like a Dixie cup and string, but I heard enough to know it was big news.
Here’s the quick overview: The Japanese have taken over the top spot on the Top500 list with a SPARC-fueled ‘K Computer.’ It’s 8.16 Pflops – 3x faster than the former number one system (Tianhe-1A).
In fact, the K Computer is larger than the next five systems on the list combined. It sports 8-core SPARC processors – 68,544 of them, to be exact – for a total of 548,353 cores. Timothy Prickett Morgan has written an exhaustive (and excellent) account of the system here.
It’s also highly interesting that this is an old-school supercomputer. It has a sophisticated, proprietary 6D torus interconnect and doesn’t use GPUs or other accelerators to juice performance.
The lack of hardware accelerators is unusual these days and noteworthy. This is a very efficient system as well, delivering 93 per cent of its theoretical peak performance – a number that puts it at the head of the class. The K pulls a fair amount of power: 9.89 megawatts. (Damn!)
That’s a bit more than double the 4.04 megawatts that Tianhe draws, but K yields 3x more performance… so it’s kind of a bargain, right? This system was a surprise in a lot of ways. No one expected it this soon, or expected it to triple the performance record.
On the webcast, I have a conversation with Rich Brueckner (from InsideHPC.com) along with Top500 co-founders Dr. Hans Meuer and Dr. Jack Dongarra.
We talk about the evolution of the list, the trends driving it, and, of course, the K Computer. Click here for the webcast.
The circle is completed
In the very beginning there was no Linux, of course, next the Linux machines where not mentioned at all, or they where called "home made". After several years when Linux passed the 40-50% level the top500 list started to mention the OS too. Today when the level is +90% it is
again, sort of, unnecessary to mention Linux in articles about the top500 computers.
Linux has become a de facto standard in supercomputing.
In embedded devices Linux has probably reached the 40-50% level too, but in those devices the mention of the OS is totally irrelevant and not mentioned.
It will be interesting to see how fast LInux will reach the 40-50% market share in smart phones.
Even now Linux is very seldom mentioned in that market as it is an unnecessary word in marketing.
If you finf this topic interesting then have a look at:
My take on the Top500
In the June 2011 list (the 37th TOP500 List) for the first time, all of the top 10 supercomputers demonstrated more than a Petaflop of computing performance (more than a quadrillion calculations per second…). Here is my view on the top 10 systems (the truth, if you can handle the truth….).
Geography: USA with 5 systems, Europe (France) with 1 system, Japan with 2 systems and China with2 systems. Interestingly enough, in the top 5, one system is from the US, and 4 are from Asia. Is Asia taking the lead in HPC? Or will we see an increase in funding to enhance the HPC development in the US?
Vendors: Fujitsu, NUDT, Cray (3 systems), Dawning, HP, SGI, Bull and IBM. Complete diversity.
CPUs: 5 systems use Intel, 3 systems use AMD, 1 system with Sparc and 1 system with Power. 80% use commodity x86 solutions. The new appearance of Sparc in the top 10 is due to the new system made by Fujitsu. Some folks see that as the second Earth simulator – a nice demonstration of capability, no much spread beyond that.
Accelerators: 5 systems use accelerators (GPGPU, Cell) to achieve the desired performance. Interesting trend due to the compute/dense/economical efficiency of the GPGPUs. My prediction is that more GPGPUs will be used (that is a safe bet…. ;-) ), and we will definitely find them as part of off-the-shelf CPUs in the not-to-far future.
Interconnect: 5 systems use Mellanox InfiniBand, 3 systems use Cray proprietary interconnect, 1 system uses NUDT proprietary interconnect and 1 system uses the Fujitsu Tofu proprietary interconnect. Looking in previous lists, InfiniBand as a standard has gain momentum in the top 10 systems. From 3 systems in the top 10, to 4 systems (last list) and to 5 systems in the current list. Win for the standard-base solutions is a win for all of us – most of the high-performance computing systems are based on standard solutions (there are much more than 500 HPC systems in the world you know….) therefore development around standard solution in the high-end of HPC platforms brings better capabilities and feature set to the rest of the HPC arena.
For more info, you are welcome to check my blog - HPC-Opinion - http://hpc-opinion.blogspot.com/.
I would love to test drive my giga and terapixel image processing routines on that beast. 93% efficiency is particularly neat, and I should consider these sparc processors for our next machine.