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US increases its share in the latest TOP500 list

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The 52nd edition of the TOP500 list has seen increased movement at the top with five US Department of Energy (DOE) supercomputers in the top 10 positions. The first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Sierra at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The share of TOP500 installations in China continues to rise, with the country now claiming 227 systems (45 percent of the total). The number of supercomputers that call the US home continues to decline, reaching an all-time low of 109 (22 percent of the total).  However, systems in the US are, on average, more powerful, resulting in an aggregate system performance of 38 percent, compared to 31 percent for China.

Summit widened its lead as the number one system, improving its High Performance Linpack (HPL) performance from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since its debut on the previous list in June 2018. Sierra also added to its HPL result from six months ago, going from 71.6 to 94.6 petaflops, enough to bump it from the number three position to number two. Both are IBM-built supercomputers, powered by Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

Sierra’s ascendance pushed China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, into third place. Prior to last June, it had held the top position on the TOP500 list for two years with its HPL performance of 93.0 petaflops. TaihuLight was developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A), deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, is now in the number four position with a Linpack score of 61.4 petaflops. It was upgraded earlier this year by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), replacing the older Intel Xeon Phi accelerators with the proprietary Matrix-2000 chips.

At number five is Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. At 21.2 petaflops, it maintains its standing as the most powerful system in Europe. It is powered by a combination of Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs

Across the rest of the top 10 positions are a Cray XC40 system operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories which improved its performance to 20.2 petaflops. This is also the only system in the top 10 to use Intel Xeon Phi processors.

Germany provided a new top ten entry with SuperMUC-NG, a Lenovo-built supercomputer installed at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (Leibniz-Rechenzentrum) in Garching, near Munich. With more than 311,040 Intel Xeon cores and an HPL performance of 19.5 petaflops, it debuted at the number eight position.

Titan, a Cray XK7 installed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory now sits at the number nine system. It achieved 17.6 petaflops using NVIDIA K20x GPU accelerators. Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer installed at DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the 10th-ranked TOP500 system. It was first delivered in 2011, achieving 17.2 petaflops on HPL.

Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest number of TOP500 systems, with a dominating 95.2 percent share. There are just three systems on the latest list powered by AMD CPUs.

For the first time, an ARM-powered supercomputer has made it into the TOP500 rankings. The new system, known as Astra, is an HPE-built supercomputer deployed at Sandia National Laboratories. It’s powered by 125,328 Cavium ThunderX2 cores and has achieved an HPL Linpack score of 1.5 petaflops. It enters the list at number 205.

The aggregate performance of the entire list has increased to 1.42 exaflops, up from 1.21 exaflops six months ago.