Facts and figures of the 41st TOP500 list

17 Jun 2013 Leipzig - Erich Strohmaier from LBNL analysed the new and already 41st TOP500 list at the ISC'13 event in Leipzig. The Top 10 list of fastest supercomputers now is topped by the Chinese Tianhe-2 system, also known as MilkyWay-2. Second comes the Cray system Titan. Third is the Sequoia IBM BlueGene/Q system. In fourth place we see the Japanese K Computer. Fifth is the Mira, also a BlueGene/Q system at Argonne Laboratory. Sixth is ranking the upgraded Stampede, hosted at TACC in Texas. The first European system ranked at seven, is the JuQUEEN, a BlueGene/Q system at the Juelich Spercomputing Center. Vulcan, the BlueGene/Q system at LLNL is ranked at #8, the SuperMUC in Leibniz at #9, and the Chinese Tianje-1A, hosted at Tianjin, closes the Top 10. All Top 10 systems use some form of accelerator and a specialized architecture.

Erich Strohmaier provided an overview of the history in performance development. He showed the audience how supercomputing performance has moved from 1,17 Tflop/s in 1994 to 224 Pflop/s in 2012. Erich Strohmaier figured we will have exascale performance around 2020.

When we look at the performance fraction of Top5 systems, we see that in 2002, there was a peak of 16% with the Earth Simulator. In 2013, we now have a peak of 15% with the Tianhe-2 system. In the last three years the race was really hot. There were five peak moments from four different systems ranked at no. 1.

Erich Strohmaier has also analysed the rank at which half of the total performance is accumulated. In the beginning, in the nineties, it was between 40 and 50. In 2000 and so on, the score was between 60 and 70. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed an exceptional situation. Only 12 systems on the list realise half of the total performance on the list. Therefore, we have to conclude that the change in architecture and technology is still going on.

The number of systems with accelerators also increases. The most used accelerators are Intel Xeon Phi, Clearspeed, IBM Cell, ATI Radeon, NVIDIA Kepler and NVIDIA Fermi. There has been alarge increase in performance during the last years.

When we look at the performance share of accelerators, we can see an increase of the total fraction of performance from 2010 on. This technology is used in high performing research and science but not in the large market of industry. Once that happens, things might change. Only a limited number of systems is using this technology up till now.

Erich Strohmaier described the performance fraction of the Top 10 systems. The ASCI Red, winner in June 1997 and the Tianhe-2, winner in June 2013 show a steeper slope because different technologies are used in scientific and commercial HPC. The Earth Simulator, winner in June 2002 and the Roadrunner, winner in June 2008 show the dominance of the commercial markets at those times. At present, the commercial market is lagging behind.

Erich Strohmaier ended his talk by providing some interesting figures. China ranks no. 2 with a 13% representation of systems in the TOP500.

As for the vendors, IBM and HP are dominant. At present, HP is ahead of IBM. Cray is following with 10%.

The Linpack efficiency provides absolute power levels. The power consumption has increased by 3.25 x in 5 years in the lower region and by factor 3.13 in 5 years in the middle region.

System developers are now increasing the performance by increasing the components.

We need new ideas or we will be in trouble by the end of the decade, predicted Erich Strohmaier.

Leslie Versweyveld