Asia's top supercomputer loses ground

The region's speediest high-performance computer system has dropped out of the world's top 10 fastest supercomputers list.

The fastest supercomputer in the Asia-Pacific region, housed at Japan's Tokyo Institute of Technology, has been edged out of the latest list of the world's top 10 fastest machines. But, the Japanese contender holds on to its throne in the region.

Dubbed TSUBAME Grid Cluster, the system dropped from the No. 9 position in November 2006 to the No. 14 spot on the new Top500 list announced Wednesday. The biannual Top500 list measures the world's fastest supercomputers according to the Linpack benchmark, which focuses on solving linear equations.

However, the Japanese system--installed by Sun Microsystems in 2006--is still the leading supercomputer in the region. The system consists of a cluster integrated by NEC based on 648 Sun Fire x4600 with 11,088 AMD's Opteron processors, 21 terabytes of memory, ClearSpeed accelerators and an InfiniBand interconnect.

Overall, the BlueGene/L system developed by IBM and DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the United States, held on to its throne in the Top500 project list, claiming the No. 1 spot four times in a row.

Housed at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., the BlueGene/L reached a Linpack benchmark performance of 280.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second).

The No. 2 spot went to Cray's Jaguar system, at 101.7 teraflops, which leapfrogged from the No. 10 position in November 2006. It is currently held at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar in the United States. Trailing closely behind is Cray's Red Storm system at Sandia National Laboratory in the United States, at 101.4 teraflops, becoming the world's third fastest supercomputer.

Among vendors, Dell is in 8th position with its Abe PowerEdge 1955 server, located at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications. And while Hewlett-Packard remains on the Top500, the company lost its place in the Top 50. It was named 40th fastest in the previous list.

In Europe, the speediest HPC (high-performance computer) system goes to an IBM JS21 cluster at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, which came in No. 9 on the global Top500 list at 62.63 teraflops.

According to the new top 500 ranking, the United States is still the biggest player in supercomputing, at 281 systems, while Europe came in second place with 127 systems, up from 95 systems in November last year.

Asia's share of HPC systems, however, has shrunk. It now has 72 systems compared to 79 systems in November 2006. The region's biggest players in supercomputers are Japan--with 23 systems, down from its previous 30--and China, which had 13 systems, down from 18 in the previous list.

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