IBM's supercomputers continue to be the fastest in the world, according to the latest Top500 list of the speediest machines released Wednesday. The company snagged six of the top 10 spots, including the coveted number one and two placings while widening the performance gap between its machines and those of its competitors.
The list was to be announced at the International Supercomputing Conference in Heidelberg, Germany.
For the second time, IBM's BlueGene/L System at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in Livermore, California, was the fastest supercomputer in the world. The machine also held pole position on the previous Top500 issued in November of last year. BlueGene/L doubled its performance over the past six months to reach a new Linpack benchmark performance of 136.8 teraflops or one trillion floating point operations per second, nearly double the 70.72 teraflops recorded on November's list. According to Dave Turek, IBM vice president for Deep Computing, the company expects the system to again double in size over the summer up to between 270 and 280 teraflops.
In the No. 2 position was another IBM BlueGene offering, the Watson Blue Gene (WBG) system, which IBM installed at its Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York, last week. WBG had a benchmarked performance of 91.2 teraflops and is being used by IBM to conduct scientific and business research.
While BlueGene's speed and performance have been important to its rapid adoption, the supercomputer's small form factor has also proved attractive to customers, according to Stacey Quandt, IT analyst at Quandt Analytics, based in Santa Clara, California. She also emphasized the continuing adoption of the Linux operating system -- eight of the top 10 supercomputers ran on Linux -- along with an increase in the number of blade systems from IBM.
Silicon Graphics Inc.'s (SGI's) Columbia system at the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California, was in third position with 51.87 teraflops. In fourth position was the previous number one fastest supercomputer prior to BlueGene/L, NEC's Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, with a Linpack benchmark performance of 35.86 teraflops.
The fastest supercomputer in Europe nabbed the No. 5 spot, an IBM machine, the MareNostrum cluster at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center in Spain, with a performance of 27.91 teraflops. Just behind it was another BlueGene owned by Astron and run at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands with a performance of 27.45 teraflops. "The biggest surprise for us is the dominance of BlueGene at the very top end of the list," said IBM's Turek. He also pointed to MareNostrum's success as indicative of "a shift in the center of gravity outwards" through Europe away from the traditional supercomputer leaders Germany, France and the U.K.