Strohmaier: We looked at growing it up to a thousand, it would be a lot more work. We also looked at if there would be a natural point to cut it off earlier. There is some indication that around 50 to 100 would be the cut-off point for really big scientific supercomputers, because after 50 to 100 you see a lot of commercial systems on the list and they tend to have different features, it's a bit of a different market. But we're happy to have 500 because what happens in the top 50 is largely driven by what happens in the 100 to 400 range, because that's where companies design products for and then they adjust them for the high end. There are very few companies who define purely for the high end.
IDGNS: Any predictions for the next list?
Strohmaier: I'm not sure we'll have a second petaflop system yet, but it will come. Quad-core systems are running strong, we'll see more of them. Aside from the petaflop system and the quad-core systems, the other interesting thing this time was that we included power consumption for the first time. We tried to learn from other efforts, we talked about this for a while, and now we have power consumption for half the systems on the list. We only list measured numbers, not peak numbers because they can be very misleading.
IDGNS: Would you ever take power efficiency into consideration when you decide who has the best-performing system?
Strohmaier: No, we rank things by size, so you need something that grows with the size of the object. Density is a feature of the product but it doesn't tell you anything about its size.
What we envision to do is maybe have an adjustment to the performance-based ranking which takes these other features of a machine into consideration, like power consumption and memory utilization. But using only power efficiency is the wrong way to go. It's an additional piece of information that is becoming important but it doesn't define what a supercomputer is.
IDGNS: Would that become a secondary list that takes power and memory consumption into consideration?
Strohmaier: It would be secondary yes. We'd always keep for tradition and for comparison the list of the biggest systems, but there might be a button on the home page where you could reorder by something like power or memory utilization, depending on what's important it is for you.