Breaking: Detailed Results from Today’s Top 500 Fastest Supercomputers List

By Nicole Hemsoth

June 23, 2014

Greetings from Germany and the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC14) where, as happens each year, the bi-annual list of the top 500 fastest supercomputers is unveiled.

Usually, this happens with a great deal of fanfare and speculation over which machine will take the top position. However, this year, there is little surprise in the finding that the Chinese Tianhe-2 system, which blew all others out of the water when it was announced last year, held firmly onto its number one position. While you can view the specs of each of the machines in more detail at the TOP500 site, we wanted to use this time to gauge some of the overarching trends we’ve been observing in terms of performance curves over time, accelerator adoption, architecture choices and more. In short, after you browse this very familiar top ten, take a look at what’s really happening…

Top500_Top10

To review, the Tianhe-2 system, which stands at 33.86 petaflops (compared to the number two system at Oak Ridge National Lab, the Cray “Titan” machine, which offers 17.59 petaflops/s) has 16,000 nodes, each of which are outfitted with two Ivy Bridge and three Xeon Phis for a total of over 3 million cores is going to be a tough one to beat. As we noted earlier this year, China has plans to continue the build-out of this system in hopes of reaching exascale potential. The system is unique with a number of homegrown parts, including the TH Express-2 interconnect, OS, tooling and front-end processors. While it may be a powerhouse, the energy efficiency lags behind the “smaller” Titan machine. Tianhe-2 runs Linpack at 17.8 megawatts while the 261,632 core NVIDIA K20-boosted Cray system at Oak Ridge runs at 8.21 megawatts.

The IBM Sequoia system at Lawrence Livermore is holding steady at number three, which in its three years alive has topped out at 17.17 petaflops/s, not far behind Titan. For those not familiar with the list this further shows the Linpack benchmark performance chasm between the number one system and those that trail it—all of which in the top ten range between 17.59 petaflops/s at the top to 3.1 petaflops/s for #10. The 500th machine on the list runs at just a tick over the 133 teraflop/s peak mark.

For those familiar with the list in its last form in November, you’ll notice that there is only one change in the top ten—a Cray XC30 is now in place and running at 3.14 petaflops at an undisclosed U.S. government site. While other than this new, mysterious addition, there might not be any earth-shattering news on this Top 500 list, there are some trends that we’ve been monitoring over the last few list iterations—and some that have evolved since November. For instance, the United States, which once dominanted the Top 500, dropped from 265 systems during November’s listing to 233 on this 43rd Top 500.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese systems in increasing. In addition to securing the number one spot by a significant margin, there are an additional 13 machines from China, bringing their total share of the Top 500 to 76. To put that in some perspective, the UK has 30, France has 27 and Germany has 23. Japan has contributed an additional two machines, bringing their total to 30.

When it comes to the overall list, performance is continuing to climb. The total of all machines on the November list is now 274 petaflops, compared to 250. To add further perspective, the total petaflop count across all machines reporting results was 223 petaflops. That sounds like a rather noteworthy increase until one takes a look at the long term growth line in performance…

Remember that strong performance development staircase we’ve steadily been climbing? If you take a look at the graphic below using the latest data from today’s Top 500 announcement, you’ll see that slight planing off in reach that we began to spot over the last year and a half. As our friends at TOP500 noted today, “From 1994 to 2008 [performance] grew by 90% per year. Since 2008 it only grows by 55% per year.” And when you take a close look at the list over the last couple of years, you’ll see that the reason why that declining figure isn’t more pronounced is simply because the top tier of the list is propping it up—most notably with the addition of the Tianhe-2 system, which holds 13.7% of the performance share of the entire list.

When examined as a whole, we’re falling off except at the highest end…but what does this mean for end user applications? Is high end computing getting smarter in terms of efficiency and software to where, for real-world applications, FLOPS no longer matter so much? Many argue that’s the case…and some will await the new HPCG benchmark and forgo Linpack altogether in favor of a more practical benchmark. That hasn’t had an impact yet on this summer’s list but over time it will be interesting to watch.

top500-performance

One gamechanger for the historical performance trends is certainly the mighty accelerator/coprocessor. But even the accelerator story has some interesting twists and turns to report. A total of 62 systems are using some form of accelerator or coprocessor technology, which is up slightly from 53 machines on the November list. Of those, 44 are using NVIDIA GPUs, 17 have deployed Xeon Phi and two have ATI Radeon as the booster of choice.

With that in mind, there’s another phenomenon that stands out. While this isn’t a suggestion that the performance leveling off is because of this, the trend around accelerator use isn’t quite as strong as it used to be either, as you can see on the historical development chart below. There are many reasons why this might be the case. For instance, national labs and scientific computing centers tend to be among the first to experiment with new technologies, although for GPUs in particular, this doesn’t completely match up since the real spike in NVIDIA-powered systems happens late in 2011–quite a long time after GPU computing began to take off. It’s possible to see in that spike for Intel when Xeon Phi landed in several shops as experimental technology as well, but even with a spike visible now, it’s difficult to see widespread adoption.

 

top500-acceleratorOf course, keep in mind that a tapering off of GPU or other accelerated systems doesn’t exactly mean that there is an overall slowdown. This is one segment of the HPC arena–there are many, many machines from academia and enterprise, that do not choose to run the HPL benchmark. Even if there are 20% of these machines missing from the list, the effect on that list would be felt in such a graphic. We asked Addison Snell of Intersect360 Research about the accelerator graphic above and he echoed this, noting that “Change in share in the Top 500 doesn’t necessarily reflect market trends. While Intel did gain share in microprocessors in 2013 over AMD and IBM Power, we also have seen a number of HPC systems with GPUs installed, which has risen to 44% of systems installed since the beginning of 2012.”

The real story that’s developing further with this list–and we expect, given changes at IBM in particular–is on the chip front. A great deal more will be revealed about the nature of such shifts in November and next June…and definitely by the end of 2015 if the many developments at IBM, Intel, NVIDIA and elsewhere are on schedule.

To put those in more accurate light, Intel has an 85% share of the systems on the list with IBM Power at 8 percent and AMD Opterons moving down three percent in terms of share to 6%. TOP500 reports that among these systems, 96% are sporting six or more cores with 83% harnessing eight or more.  To say that Intel continues to dominate is an understatement. But despite any perceived stagnation of this chart from the last couple of years, get ready, because the new few years are set to bring strong winds of change due to momentum with OpenPower and perhaps even AMD. The arrival of 64-bit ARM will shake things up as will new choices in chips, but expect a flat list at least through this time next year unless something completely unexpected happens. Fill in the blank on what that might be, but free, easy to program quantum computing systems seems the only option.

top500-chip

Right now, IBM’s Blue Gene/Q holds the majority of systems in the top ten. However, with changes at IBM, which is now focusing its efforts on the future of OpenPower and Power more generally, once these systems are decommissioned, along with the many others on the list (176 currently), it’s hard to say what their position will be. We talked with IBM’s Dave Turek this week in advance of ISC and we have an interview coming during our special coverage that will offer a sense of what’s next for Big Blue in HPC, so keep an eye out for that.

On the network front, there haven’t been any major changes. 222 systems are sporting Infiniband on this most recent list, up from 207 in fall. 75 entries are reporting 10 GbE, which is two less than the last list A total of 127 systems are outfitted with standard GbE (compared to 135 in November). There are 52 custom interconnects and 5 proprietary interconnects (which now includes the Cray Aries assets, which used to be counted under their own system name). The Gemini interconnect can be found on 18 systems, including, of course, Titan.

For some additional background on this summer’s list, we thought it might be useful to show two figures that demonstrate where a few trends in the list and its participants. The first will also not offer much in the way of difference or surprises compared to November’s iteration of the Top 500, although it’s thrilling to see growing industry participation take a slight rise.

top500-typeThe figure below puts all of this in context by showing the dominant trend in terms of systems–again, not a surprise, but a useful visualization.

top500-architectures

Of all of these systems, HP has a 36% share (down from 39% in November), IBM has 35% (up from 33% on the fall list) and Cray sits in third position for vendor share with 51 systems—a total of just a tick over 10% of the 500 machines.

What’s more enlightening on those figures is the performance share. As noted above, the Tianhe-2 system itself provides over 13% of the performance share for the list. But by vendor, IBM has a 32% performance share, Cray edged up to 18.6% (up by two percentage points, in part due to the new #10 government XC30), and although they sell more systems than the others, HP’s performance share is just a tick below Cray’s at 15.6%.

Stay tuned for our visual feature set go live later this morning CET that showcases other subtle trends on this summer’s TOP500 list.

And in the meantime, stop by the HPCwire booth to say hello. You’re welcome to bring a pot of coffee with you. I take it with milk, no sugar. And I will drink it all. Thank you.

 

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

With New Owner and New Roadmap, an Independent Omni-Path Is Staging a Comeback

July 23, 2021

Put on a shelf by Intel in 2019, Omni-Path faced a uncertain future, but under new custodian Cornelis Networks, OmniPath is looking to make a comeback as an independent high-performance interconnect solution. A "significant refresh" – called Omni-Path Express – is coming later this year according to the company. Cornelis Networks formed last September as a spinout of Intel's Omni-Path division. Read more…

PEARC21 Panel Reviews Eight New NSF-Funded HPC Systems Debuting in 2021

July 23, 2021

Over the past few years, the NSF has funded a number of HPC systems to further supply the open research community with computational resources to meet that community’s changing and expanding needs. A review of these systems at the PEARC21 conference (July 19-22) highlighted... Read more…

Chameleon’s HPC Testbed Sharpens Its Edge, Presses ‘Replay’

July 22, 2021

“One way of saying what I do for a living is to say that I develop scientific instruments,” said Kate Keahey, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago and a computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, as s Read more…

PEARC21 Plenary Session: AI for Innovative Social Work

July 21, 2021

AI analysis of social media poses a double-edged sword for social work and addressing the needs of at-risk youths, said Desmond Upton Patton, senior associate dean, Innovation and Academic Affairs, Columbia University. S Read more…

Summer Reading: “High-Performance Computing Is at an Inflection Point”

July 21, 2021

At last month’s 11th International Symposium on Highly Efficient Accelerators and Reconfigurable Technologies (HEART), a group of researchers led by Martin Schulz of the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (Munich) presented a “position paper” in which they argue HPC architectural landscape... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Accelerate innovation in healthcare and life sciences with AWS HPC

With Amazon Web Services, researchers can access purpose-built HPC tools and services along with scientific and technical expertise to accelerate the pace of discovery. Whether you are sequencing the human genome, using AI/ML for disease detection or running molecular dynamics simulations to develop lifesaving drugs, AWS has the infrastructure you need to run your HPC workloads. Read more…

PEARC21 Panel: Wafer-Scale-Engine Technology Accelerates Machine Learning, HPC

July 21, 2021

Early use of Cerebras’ CS-1 server and wafer-scale engine (WSE) has demonstrated promising acceleration of machine-learning algorithms, according to participants in the Scientific Research Enabled by CS-1 Systems panel Read more…

With New Owner and New Roadmap, an Independent Omni-Path Is Staging a Comeback

July 23, 2021

Put on a shelf by Intel in 2019, Omni-Path faced a uncertain future, but under new custodian Cornelis Networks, OmniPath is looking to make a comeback as an independent high-performance interconnect solution. A "significant refresh" – called Omni-Path Express – is coming later this year according to the company. Cornelis Networks formed last September as a spinout of Intel's Omni-Path division. Read more…

Chameleon’s HPC Testbed Sharpens Its Edge, Presses ‘Replay’

July 22, 2021

“One way of saying what I do for a living is to say that I develop scientific instruments,” said Kate Keahey, a senior fellow at the University of Chicago a Read more…

Summer Reading: “High-Performance Computing Is at an Inflection Point”

July 21, 2021

At last month’s 11th International Symposium on Highly Efficient Accelerators and Reconfigurable Technologies (HEART), a group of researchers led by Martin Schulz of the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (Munich) presented a “position paper” in which they argue HPC architectural landscape... Read more…

PEARC21 Panel: Wafer-Scale-Engine Technology Accelerates Machine Learning, HPC

July 21, 2021

Early use of Cerebras’ CS-1 server and wafer-scale engine (WSE) has demonstrated promising acceleration of machine-learning algorithms, according to participa Read more…

15 Years Later, the Green500 Continues Its Push for Energy Efficiency as a First-Order Concern in HPC

July 15, 2021

The Green500 list, which ranks the most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world, has virtually always faced an uphill battle. As Wu Feng – custodian of the Green500 list and an associate professor at Virginia Tech – tells it, “noone" cared about energy efficiency in the early 2000s, when the seeds... Read more…

Frontier to Meet 20MW Exascale Power Target Set by DARPA in 2008

July 14, 2021

After more than a decade of planning, the United States’ first exascale computer, Frontier, is set to arrive at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) later this year. Crossing this “1,000x” horizon required overcoming four major challenges: power demand, reliability, extreme parallelism and data movement. Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

ExaWind Prepares for New Architectures, Bigger Simulations

July 10, 2021

The ExaWind project describes itself in terms of terms like wake formation, turbine-turbine interaction and blade-boundary-layer dynamics, but the pitch to the Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Berkeley Lab Debuts Perlmutter, World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

May 27, 2021

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held virtually at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) today marked the official launch of Perlmutter – aka NERSC-9 – the GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE in partnership with Nvidia and AMD. Read more…

Ahead of ‘Dojo,’ Tesla Reveals Its Massive Precursor Supercomputer

June 22, 2021

In spring 2019, Tesla made cryptic reference to a project called Dojo, a “super-powerful training computer” for video data processing. Then, in summer 2020, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Tesla is developing a [neural network] training computer called Dojo to process truly vast amounts of video data. It’s a beast! … A truly useful exaflop at de facto FP32.” Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

CentOS Replacement Rocky Linux Is Now in GA and Under Independent Control

June 21, 2021

The Rocky Enterprise Software Foundation (RESF) is announcing the general availability of Rocky Linux, release 8.4, designed as a drop-in replacement for the soon-to-be discontinued CentOS. The GA release is launching six-and-a-half months after Red Hat deprecated its support for the widely popular, free CentOS server operating system. The Rocky Linux development effort... Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Iran Gains HPC Capabilities with Launch of ‘Simorgh’ Supercomputer

May 18, 2021

Iran is said to be developing domestic supercomputing technology to advance the processing of scientific, economic, political and military data, and to strengthen the nation’s position in the age of AI and big data. On Sunday, Iran unveiled the Simorgh supercomputer, which will deliver.... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

Q&A with Jim Keller, CTO of Tenstorrent, and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

April 22, 2021

As part of our HPCwire Person to Watch series, we are happy to present our interview with Jim Keller, president and chief technology officer of Tenstorrent. One of the top chip architects of our time, Keller has had an impactful career. Read more…

Quantum Roundup: IBM, Rigetti, Phasecraft, Oxford QC, China, and More

July 13, 2021

IBM yesterday announced a proof for a quantum ML algorithm. A week ago, it unveiled a new topology for its quantum processors. Last Friday, the Technical Univer Read more…

Senate Debate on Bill to Remake NSF – the Endless Frontier Act – Begins

May 18, 2021

The U.S. Senate today opened floor debate on the Endless Frontier Act which seeks to remake and expand the National Science Foundation by creating a technology Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire