A (Red) Rising Star in the Latest Top500 Supercomputer List

The 35th Top500 supercomputer list has just been released at ISC2010 in Germany, and it’s got some very interesting things in it.

Firstly, China has just got the #2 system on the Top500 with an nVidia GPU based cluster called Nebulae. At 1.271PF measured (Rmax) it’s just over 70% of the performance of the current #1 system Jaguar but (if you believe that it’s worth anything) on theoretical performance it’s 2.9PF beats out Jaguar’s 2.3PF – this means that if they can optimise Linpack some more for the architecture then perhaps they have a shot of overtaking Jaguar and taking #1 (assuming nothing larger comes along in the next 6 months).

Secondly China has also taken the #7 spot with an AMD GPU based cluster (notice a pattern here?) and now have 24 systems in the Top500 and have overtaken Germany to take the #2 spot in terms of total performance in a country at 2.9PF, though a long way behind the US with over 17PF total Rmax. I think the Chinese have arrived with a vengeance and I suspect they’re going to carry on boosting their capacity, especially as both their Top 10 systems are built by Chinese organisations.

Linux continues its domination of the Top500, increasing its share of systems from 446 (89.2%) in November 2009 to 455 (91%) today. Windows has just 5 systems in total, unchanged from last year. Tellingly it appears they are the same 5 as November as the stats are unchanged – it appears there may be stagnation in the uptake of Windows HPC at the high end.

Australia has just one system in the Top500, the Bureau of Meteorology / HPCCC Sun^WOracle cluster in Melbourne. It’s ranked at #113 with 49.5TF at which is pretty impressive. though I’m puzzled why its much bigger sibling at NCI/ANU in Canberra didn’t get a mention, perhaps they chose to just get it into production ASAP without faffing around with Linpack ? Based on their estimated Rpeak and the efficiency of the BoM machine I reckon they’d get an Rmax of about 128TF and would place about #35.

But without the NCI machine Australia ranks behind such well known HPC countries as Austria and Denmark and well behind the likes of New Zealand and India!