The grand day is finally here: Hans Meuer, Jack Dongarra and Erich Strohmaier have compiled the latest Top500 supercomputer list.
The Top500 list is updated twice a year by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany, Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, the K supercomputer, based in Japan and built by Fujitsu, was the world leader, with a performance of 10.51 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point calculations per second). It has 705,024 Sparc64 processing cores and scored number 1 both times the top500 list was updated in 2011. Now, though, the top spot belongs to the Sequoia, whose 1.57 million processor cores clearly trounce even K with their combined prowess of 16.32 petaflops.
Sequoia is based in DOE/NNSA/LLNL, United States, and was built by IBM. The third spot went to a totally new system, Mira, also located in the US (DOE/SC/Argonne National Laboratory). Its performance is 8.16 petaflops (max), brought about by 786,432 cores. The performance difference between third and fourth places is quite large, and that goes to the number of processor cores too. The Leibniz Rechenzentrum, Germany-based SuperMUC, with its 147,456 cores, only manages 28.97 petaflops. After that, the number dwindle somewhat more gradually, with a few exceptions. Speaking of SuperMUC, it is the strongest Intel-based supercomputer to make the list (Xeon E5-2680 processors). Looks like Chipzilla can't evenly compete with the veterans just yet. MIC should make a difference, but we'll get to that later.
On the other hand, a simple browser search function for the word “Xeon” will show that many of the supercomputers on the list use them. It might not be the best sort of milestone, but quantity has its merits too. Finally, we found it curious that Cray only made sixth place. Then again, the AMD Opteron-powered Jaguar, was the leader back in 2009, so it's probably just owed to Cray not having had enough time to build a new one. We'll tell you all about its latest project later today.