China jumps to number two in supercomputer stakes

02 Jun 2010 | News
China’s new Nebulae Supercomputer has moved to the number two spot, on the tail of the world’s most powerful computer, Jaguar, based at the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

China’s new Nebulae Supercomputer has moved to the number two spot, right on the tail of the world’s most powerful computer, Jaguar, which is based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, according to the latest TOP500 List of Fastest Supercomputers.

Nebulae underlines China’s ambition to enter the supercomputing arena. The system is built from a Dawning TC3600 Blade system with Intel X5650 processors and NVidia Tesla C2050 Graphics Processing Units.

In fact, Nebulae is currently the fastest system worldwide, with a theoretical peak performance at 2.98 PFlop/s. However, using the Linpack performance benchmark of 1.271 PFlop/s, Nebulae is placed at number two in the 35th edition of the TOP500 list of supercomputers.

The latest version of the TOP500 list, which is issued twice yearly, will be formally presented on Monday, June 31, at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Jaguar, which is located at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, held on to the number one spot on the TOP500 with its record 1.75 PFlop/s performance speed running the Linpack benchmark. Jaguar has a theoretical peak capability of 2.3 PFlop/s and nearly a quarter of a million cores. One PFlop/s refers to one quadrillion calculations per second.

Nebulae, located at the newly build National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen, China, achieved 1.271 PFlop/s running the Linpack benchmark. But more can be expected of this computer which has a theoretical peak capability of almost 3 PFlop/s, the highest ever in the TOP500.

Roadrunner, the first ever PFop/s system at Los Alamos in June 2008, dropped to number three with a performance of 1.04 PFlop/s.

At number five is the most powerful system in Europe, an IBM BlueGene/P supercomputer located at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany, which achieved 825.5 TFlop/s on the Linpack benchmark.

Tianhe-1 (meaning River in Sky), installed at the National Super Computer Centre in Tianjin, China is a second Chinese system in the TOP10, ranked at number seven. Tianhe-1 and Nebulae are both hybrid designs with Intel Xeon processors and AMD or NVidia GPUs used as accelerators. Each node of Tianhe-1 consists of two AMD GPUs attached to two Intel Xeon processors.

The performance of Nebulae and Tianhe-1 were enough to catapult China into the number two spot in terms of installed performance (9.2 per cent) ahead of various European countries, but still a long way behind the US (55.4 per cent).

The US is clearly the leading consumer of high performance computing systems with 282 of the 500 systems (up from 277). The European share of 144 systems (down from 152) is still substantially larger then the Asian share of 57 systems (up from 51). In Europe, the UK remains number one with 38 systems (45 six months ago). France passed Germany and has now 29 (up from 26). Germany now holds the number three spot with 24 systems (27 six months ago). The dominant countries in Asia are China with 24 systems (up from 21), Japan with 18 systems (up from 16), and India with 5 systems (up from 3).

The TOP500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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