China claims lead of Top500

During the opening session of the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany, Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, has been declared the world’s leading supercomputer.

The coveted position as top of the twice-yearly Top500 list was previously held by China in November 2010, when Tianhe-1A was the leading system. With a staggering performance of 33.86 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, Tianhe-2 (otherwise known as Milky Way-2) will be deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, by the end of the year – two years ahead of schedule.

Boasting 16,000 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors for a combined total of 3,120,000 computing cores, the system has beaten the record of 17.59 petaflop set by Titan in November 2012. Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has 261,632 Nvidia K20x accelerator cores, and is one of the most energy-efficient systems on the list, consuming a total of 8.21 MW and delivering 2,143 Mflops/W. Titan is now ranked number two on the Top500 list.

Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, also dropped one position and is now claiming the third spot. Sequoia was first delivered in 2011 and has achieved 17.17 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores. Sequoia is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the list, consuming a total of 7.84 MW and delivering 2,031.6 Mflops/W.

Installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, Fujitsu’s K computer has slipped down one place to fourth position, with a performance of 10.51 Pflops on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores. With 8.59 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark using 786,432 cores, Argonne National Laboratory’s Mira – a BlueGene/Q system – is at number five.

Completing the Top 10 are the upgraded Stampede at the Texas Advanced Computing Center of the University of Texas, Austin; Juqueen at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany (and the most powerful system in Europe); an IBM BlueGene/Q system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; SuperMUC, an IBM iDataplex system installed at Leibniz Rechenzentrum in Germany; and Tianhe-1A at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China.

According to Top500 Editor Jack Dongarra, who toured the Tianhe-2 development facility in May, the system is noteworthy for a few reasons: ‘Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part. That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese.’

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