TOP500 Trends That Cannot Be Ignored

By Tiffany Trader

November 16, 2015

The 46th edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 list is hot off the presses and while there’s not much to break the monotony at the peak, this is in many ways a pivotal edition of the list in that it makes it hard to dismiss two trends in particular: China’s ascendance and flattening growth trajectories.

But before we unpack those gleanings, let’s start at the top. Yes, Tianhe-2, the supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, is still number one for the sixth time in a row with a LINPACK performance of 33.86 petaflops (54.9 peak); and Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is still number two with 17.59 petaflops LINPACK (27.1 peak).

As a matter of fact, the whole top-five block is right where it was in June 2013:

TOP500-list-June-2013-or-November-2015

The only movement the list has seen in the past few years is in the bottom half of the top ten, where we see two newcomers, both Crays. At number six, the Trinity supercomputer, procured by the Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES, a Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories partnership), achieved 8.1 petaflops LINPACK (11 petaflops peak). At number eight, the Hazel-Hen system, installed at the HLRS – Höchstleistungsrechenzentrum Stuttgart, in Germany, reported 5.6 petaflops LINPACK (7.4 peak).

TOP500 list 6-10 November 2015

 

The Cray Trinity install is the first half of a much larger system, reportedly on track to reach 42 peak petaflops when it gets a massive Knight Landing injection in 2016 (it’s aggregate memory capacity will be 2.11 petabytes). The current install is a Cray XC30 based on “Haswells,” specifically Xeon E5-2698v3 16C 2.3GHz processors. When complete, Trinity will be a single system that contains both the Haswell parts and Intel’s next-generation Xeon Phi processors (Knights Landing). The Haswell partition provides a natural transition path for many of the legacy codes running on Cielo, the current NNSA supercomputer sited at Los Alamos. ACES’ RFP partner NERSC is using a similar strategy — and it’s Cori Phase 1 system will be live any day now (read more on NERSC’s new digs here).

“Hazel Hen” at the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS), member of the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing, got on the upper echelon of the list thanks to an upgrade that doubled its compute power from 2.7 to 5.6 petaflops. The Cray XC40 system, now officially open for operation as the most powerful HPC system of PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe), leverages the latest Intel Xeon processor technologies and the CRAY Aries interconnect with Dragonfly network topology. The installation’s 41 system cabinets host 7,712 compute notes with a total of 185,088 Intel Haswell E5-2680 v3 compute cores.

As the TOP500 authors observe, the top ten is experiencing a low level of turnover, a slowing trend that began in 2008. “Six of the top 10 systems were installed in 2011 or 2012, Tianhe-2 in 2013 and only Trinity, Hazel-Hen, and Shaheen II in Saudi Arabia were installed in 2015,” they write.

This stagnation has come to be reflected in long-term performance trajectories with the first, last and sum of systems figures lagging behind historical trends  The growth of the average performance of all systems in the list has slowed since 2013, dropping to about 55 percent per years. The performance of the last system on the list (#500) has taken a marked turn in recent years: from 1994 to 2008 it grew by 90 percent per year, but since 2008 it only grows by 55 percent per year, the list authors point out.

TOP500 list Performance Development 20151116

Every year of stagnation the flattening effect becomes more clear with a break-point occurring in 2008 and 2013 as Berkeley Lab Deputy Director Horst Simon has elucidated. The numbers would be even flatter if not for the boost provided by strong turnover at the top in the 2011-2013 timeframe. Without a fresh crop of over-achievers, the overall lag has nothing to hide behind. And while there are multi-petaflops systems in the pipeline (the fulfillment of the CORAL and NERSC-8/ACES RFPs, speaking to US interests), they are arriving too late to offset the new trends.

That’s the big picture snapshot, but what this list is even more likely to be remembered for are changing global market dynamics, in which US dominance can no longer be taken for granted. This November, China proved it is serious about filling in its supercomputing portfolio, which it has expanded by nearly a factor of three — going from 37 in July to 109 systems today. This is an unquestionably a steep jump, but a look at China’s system share from year to year shows how this climb has played out since about 2000. The question here of course is whether this ground can be regained or if this is the new reality.

TOP500 country share 20151116
System share by country over time. US is pink and China is red. Source: TOP500

As list share is a zero sum game, the United States has lost TOP500 ground, falling to the lowest point since the TOP500 list was created in 1993 with just 199 systems on this list down from 233 in July. The European share has also declined — down to 107 systems compared to 141 on the last list. Europe now lags behind Asia, which now claims 173 systems, up from 107 from the previous list.

A few more important data points from the TOP500 authors:

  • China is at the number two position in terms of both system share and performance share (as it has been since June 2013).
  • The European share (107 systems compared to 141 last time) has fallen and is now lower than the Asian share of 173 systems., up from 107 in June 2015.
  • Japan has 36 systems, down from 39.
  • In Europe, Germany is the clear leader with 32 systems followed by France and the UK at 18 systems each.
  • Sugon, a vendor from China is now ahead of IBM in the system category with 49 systems.

There’s still a lot more to unpack. The official list will be published tomorrow and we will follow up with more insights and reporting from the TOP500 BoF, which takes place Tuesday night at the Austin Convention Center.

For now, the TOP500 folks have put together this poster (PDF), which offers a lot to ponder, like chip share, accelerator diversity and the rise of industry.

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!

NIST/Xanadu Researchers Report Photonic Quantum Computing Advance

March 3, 2021

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Xanadu, a young Canada-based quantum computing company, have reported developing a full-stack, photonic quantum computer able to carry out th Read more…

By John Russell

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and even to this day, the largest climate models are heavily con Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Deloitte Outfits New AI Computing Center with Nvidia DGX Gear

March 3, 2021

With AI use continuing to grow in adoption throughout enterprise IT, Deloitte is creating a new Deloitte Center for AI Computing to advise its customers, explain the technology and help them use it in their ongoing busin Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2020) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective immediately. Hotard replaces long-time Cray exec Pete Ungaro Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ORNL’s Jeffrey Vetter on How IRIS Runtime will Help Deal with Extreme Heterogeneity

March 2, 2021

Jeffery Vetter is a familiar figure in HPC. Last year he became one of the new section heads in a reorganization at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He had been founding director of ORNL's Future Technologies Group which i Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Moderna Accelerates COVID-19 Vaccine Development on AWS

Marcello Damiani, Chief Digital and Operational Excellence Officer at Moderna, joins Todd Weatherby, Vice President of AWS Professional Services Worldwide, for a discussion on developing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, scaling systems to enable global distribution, and leveraging cloud technologies to accelerate processes. Read more…

HPC Career Notes: March 2021 Edition

March 1, 2021

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2020) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ORNL’s Jeffrey Vetter on How IRIS Runtime will Help Deal with Extreme Heterogeneity

March 2, 2021

Jeffery Vetter is a familiar figure in HPC. Last year he became one of the new section heads in a reorganization at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He had been f Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: March 2021 Edition

March 1, 2021

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Japan to Debut Integrated Fujitsu HPC/AI Supercomputer This Spring

February 25, 2021

The integrated Fujitsu HPC/AI Supercomputer, Wisteria, is coming to Japan this spring. The University of Tokyo is preparing to deploy a heterogeneous computing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Xilinx Launches Alveo SN1000 SmartNIC

February 24, 2021

FPGA vendor Xilinx has debuted its latest SmartNIC model, the Alveo SN1000, with integrated “composability” features that allow enterprise users to add their own custom networking functions to supplement its built-in networking. By providing deep flexibility... Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

ASF Keynotes Showcase How HPC and Big Data Have Pervaded the Pandemic

February 24, 2021

Last Thursday, a range of experts joined the Advanced Scale Forum (ASF) in a rapid-fire roundtable to discuss how advanced technologies have transformed the way humanity responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in indelible ways. The roundtable, held near the one-year mark of the first... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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…

By John Russell

Esperanto Unveils ML Chip with Nearly 1,100 RISC-V Cores

December 8, 2020

At the RISC-V Summit today, Art Swift, CEO of Esperanto Technologies, announced a new, RISC-V based chip aimed at machine learning and containing nearly 1,100 low-power cores based on the open-source RISC-V architecture. Esperanto Technologies, headquartered in... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Programming the Soon-to-Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer, Frontier

January 5, 2021

What’s it like designing an app for the world’s fastest supercomputer, set to come online in the United States in 2021? The University of Delaware’s Sunita Chandrasekaran is leading an elite international team in just that task. Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of computer and information sciences, recently was named... Read more…

By Tracey Bryant

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. 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…

By Doug Black

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Xe-HP GPU Deployed for Aurora Exascale Development

November 17, 2020

At SC20, Intel announced that it is making its Xe-HP high performance discrete GPUs available to early access developers. Notably, the new chips have been deplo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Teases Ice Lake-SP, Shows Competitive Benchmarking

November 17, 2020

At SC20 this week, Intel teased its forthcoming third-generation Xeon "Ice Lake-SP" server processor, claiming competitive benchmarking results against AMD's second-generation Epyc "Rome" processor. Ice Lake-SP, Intel's first server processor with 10nm technology... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

It’s Fugaku vs. COVID-19: How the World’s Top Supercomputer Is Shaping Our New Normal

November 9, 2020

Fugaku is currently the most powerful publicly ranked supercomputer in the world – but we weren’t supposed to have it yet. The supercomputer, situated at Japan’s Riken scientific research institute, was scheduled to come online in 2021. When the pandemic struck... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire