85 U.S. federal supercomputers among world's top 500

85 U.S. federal supercomputers among world's top 500

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff


JUNE 21—Massive systems for modeling weapons, weather and combustion research head up the latest list of the world's 500 fastest computers, according to a semiannual independent survey released today at www.top500.org.

The U.S. government owns eight of the 10 fastest computers and 85 of the fastest 500. The Energy Department's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative has four of the top 10 slots on the list, and its ASCI White supercomputer tops the list for the second time [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/3259-1.html].

ASCI White, an IBM SP parallel system with 8,192 processors, went in last year at Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. ASCI White and three other Energy supercomputers in the top 10 run simulations of the aging of nuclear weapons.

ASCI White can theoretically calculate up to 7.2 trillion floating-point operations per second.

An unclassified Energy supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., debuts as No. 2 with a theoretical peak speed of 2.5 TFLOPS.

The SP system at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, part of the Berkeley lab, is roughly one-third as big as its Livermore cousin in both size and performance, said David Gelardi, the IBM server group's director of high-performance computing. The NERSC supercomputer, which has 2,528 of IBM's 375-MHz Power3 processors, is used for simulating gasoline combustion in engines.

An earlier version of NERSC's IBM SP appeared at 60th place in last November's top 500 list, but the lab upgraded the system substantially earlier this year. The SP is in the final stages of acceptance testing, Gelardi said.

The Naval Oceanographic Office in Bay Saint Louis, Miss., operates a 1,336-processor IBM SP, and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Md., use a pair of 1,104-processor IBM SP systems to forecast the nation's weather.

Thirty of the 85 government-owned supercomputers are listed as classified, up from 17 in last November's list. Another 15 systems are at supercomputer centers that receive their primary funding from the National Science Foundation or the Energy or Defense departments.

An international committee of computer scientists compiles the top 500 rankings twice a year. The scientists use the Linpack linear algebra benchmark to measure systems' theoretical peak performance. Most parallel supercomputers, however, achieve only a fraction of peak performance on actual problems.

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