US reclaims the top spot in the TOP500

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The TOP500 has published the latest version of the TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers with significant changes as the US takes the top spot for the first time since November 2012.

This has created further changes in the top 5 supercomputers as many of the systems are new or have seen significant upgrades from previous iteration of the list.

Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer now running at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), took the number one spot with a performance of 122.3 petaflops on High Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark used to rank the TOP500 list. Summit is comprised of 4,356 nodes, each one equipped with two 22-core Power9 CPUs, and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. The nodes are linked together with a Mellanox dual-rail EDR InfiniBand network.

Sunway TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, drops to number two after leading the list for the past two years. Its HPL mark of 93 petaflops has remained unchanged since it came online in June 2016.

Sierra, a new system at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory took the number three spot, delivering 71.6 petaflops on HPL. Built by IBM, Sierra’s architecture is similar to that of Summit but uses less GPUs per node and slightly different clock speeds on the Power 9 CPU. Each of its 4,320 nodes are powered by two Power9 CPUs plus four NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and using the same Mellanox EDR InfiniBand as the system interconnect.

Tianhe-2A, also known as Milky Way-2A, moved down two notches into the number four spot, despite receiving a major upgrade that replaced its five-year-old Xeon Phi accelerators with custom-built Matrix-2000 coprocessors. The new hardware increased the system’s HPL performance from 33.9 petaflops to 61.4 petaflops, while bumping up its power consumption by less than four percent. Tianhe-2A was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and is installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, China.

The new AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) is the fifth-ranked system on the list, with an HPL mark of 19.9 petaflops. The Fujitsu-built supercomputer is powered by 20-core Xeon Gold processors along with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. It’s installed in Japan at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

Piz Daint (19.6 petaflops), Titan (17.6 petaflops), Sequoia (17.2 petaflops), Trinity (14.1 petaflops), and Cori (14.0 petaflops) move down to the number six through 10 spots, respectively.

While the US has retaken the top spot in the rankings, overall the country has dropped the total number of systems featured in the list to 124 – the lowest since the TOP500 began. For example, in the previous list published six months ago, the US had 145 systems

Despite the ascendance of the US at the top of the rankings, the country now claims only 124 systems on the list, a new low. Just six months ago, the US had 145 systems. However the US has increased its share in the performance category. Systems installed in the US now contribute 38.2 per cent of the aggregate installed performance, with China in second place with 29.1 per cent. Much of this change in aggregate performance comes from the introduction of Summit and Sierra at the top of the rankings.

China improved its representation to 206 total systems, compared to 202 on the last list. The next most prominent countries are Japan, with 36 systems, the United Kingdom, with 22 systems, Germany with 21 systems, and France, with 18 systems. These numbers are nearly the same as they were on the previous list.

For the first time, total performance of all 500 systems exceeds one exaflop with the total systems delivering 1.22 exaflops. This has increased from 845 petaflops in the November 2017 list. While this is an impressive milestone to reach the increase in installed performance is well below the previous long-term trend shown until 2013.

The overall increase in installed capacity is also reflected in the fact that there are now 273 systems with HPL performance greater than one petaflop, up from 181 systems on the previous list. The entry level to the list is now 716 teraflops, an increase of 168 teraflops.

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