Blue Gene retains supercomputer crown

The Blue Gene/L System retains the No. 1 position as the world’s fastest computer for the third year running. According to the latest Top500 supercomputer listings IBM also retains its lead as the principle builder of ultra fast machines.

It is a joint development of IBM and the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and is installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California and is primarily used for simulating nuclear weapon explosions rather than real world testing.

The Blue Gene/L, which has been benchmarked at running a world record performance of 280.6 TFlop/s (207.3 trillion floating-point operations per second) on the so-called the ‘Qbox’ computer code used in what the NNSA coyly calls ‘materials science simulations critical to national security’.

Qbox is a ‘first-principles molecular dynamics’ (FPMD) code, designed to predict the properties of metals under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure. The new record is attributed to new mathematical libraries developed by software researchers at IBM that take advantage of BG/L’s dual-core architecture and 131,072 processors.

IBM systems dominate the listings for the world’s fastest mainframes. Machines from Big Blue account for 240 of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world and more than half the total processing power according to the TOP500 supercomputer sites list.

The fastest European computer is the French Atomic Energy Authority’s Tera 10 Supercomputer which appears at number five in the listings.

Intel architecture processors powered 36.8 per cent of the supercomputers around the world although rival AMD has been catching up fast. Its 64-bit processors have now captured 16 per cent of the total coming from nowhere just a few years ago. Linux was the operating system of choice for nearly three quarters of the supercomputers in the list.

The list is compiled by the University of California at Berkeley, The University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim in Germany.

The full list is at the Top500.org site.

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