Linux continues to rule supercomputers

Linux continues to rule supercomputers

Summary: If you want a really fast computer, then Linux is your operating system and Intel may be your chip manufacturer.


The June 2013 Top500 supercomputer list is in, and 476 of the top 500 fastest supercomputers in the world run Linux.

Whether you measure supercomputing by number of systems or overall performance, Linux rules.
(Image: Top500)

Is that good enough for you? While Linux fans and critics obsess about Linux's failure to sweep Windows off the desktop, they're ignoring that Linux is winning everywhere else, and that when it comes to the highest of high-end computing, Linux rules.

Driving the point home, the top 10 fastest supercomputers all run Linux of one sort or the other. You have to go the way to the 44th fastest computer, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts box, which runs IBM's AIX Unix variant, to find one that doesn't run Linux.

Windows? A mere three supercomputers run Windows. The fastest of these, Magic Cube at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, which runs Windows High Performance Computing (HPC) 2008, placed 187th in the world.

What's interesting about this latest list isn't that Linux dominates. That's become a matter of course. When it comes to supercomputing, Linux rules. It's that simple.

Nor is it that China currently has the fastest supercomputer in the world. China has been working hard on catching up with the West in HPC.

No, the real surprise is that the Tianhe-2 (aka "Milky Way 2"), with its performance of 33.86 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark, came in with more than twice the performance of the top-rated system at the end of November 2012, and it did it on Intel chips.

Intel has long been well represented in supercomputers, but hasn't seized the top spot since 1997. The Milky Way 2, which won it the title, is powered by 32,000 of the 12-core Intel Xeon processors E5-2600 v2 based on Ivy Bridge architecture, and 48,000 Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, with a total system power of 17.8 megawatts. Intel claims that not only is Milky Way 2 "the fastest, but [it's] also one of the most power-efficient systems on the Top500 list."

Intel plans on keeping both the fastest and most power-efficient titles in the future with a new generation of Xeon Phi "Knight's Landing" chips. The company also wants to keep its dominance of the market as a whole. Just over 80 percent — 403 computers — out of the Top500 now use Intel processors.

Regardless of the hardware, when it comes to supercomputer dominance, the real champion is Linux. No matter what the architecture, the world's fastest computers run Linux, and there's no reason to think that will change anytime soon.

Related stories

Topics: Linux, Data Centers, Hardware, Intel

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  • I have been saying for years now

    If you want to do real work on computers you need Linux!
    • Let the

      MS trolling begin.....
      • MS trolling?

        Just curious if you believe SJVN is attempting to prevent or encourage trolling with his blogs? SJVN is getting EXACTLY the responses he is looking for. You have to acknowledge that, regardless of what your OS choice is.
        • Look Who's First to JUMP! :D

          At least SJVN is putting his money where his mouth is and all you MS and Apple Trolls can do (instead of attempting to refute his facts), is claim Linux fans (like DancesWithTrolls) and SJVN are all simply trolling. The reality then your "I know you are, but what am I" childish reaction (even when DancesWithTrolls slaps it in your TROLL FACES, is to call him a troll a troll back! hahaha.... now that's funny, really funny! :DDD

          And to further add insult to injury..... SJVN didn't even go into how many ways Linux Rules Our Computing World today. Other than a few Apple computers and primarily OEM Windows Installs (that are most likely dual booting or running Linux virtualized too) on desktops only. Then you trolls somehow want us to believe your FANTASY of Microsoft computing dominance actually still exists today. Which it doesn't any more and in reality never did in the first place. Only on desktops and those are now dying like flies who gorged themselves on their own excrement.... FASTER..... Everyday!

          A another point SVJN could have made is by virtue of Android being simply another Linux based OS, Linux also rules our mobile device World too. That's on top of Linux being the base of software programs in Automotive, Aeronautics, Automated Manufacturing Machinery, Medical Equipment, Electronics of all sorts including TV's, DVR's Washing Machines, and other home appliances, etc et all!

          So the reality is that Open Source and Linux, if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty facts, runs our World today and it took over our lives that every other proprietary OS on the planet, couldn't force people to pay for. They also did right under you fool's own noses, without you even knowing it! ;-P

          And..... so I guess I'd have a hard time admitting to that truth too.... if I was one of you TROLLS! ^_*
          • Not so, not so at all.

            The truth is the truth.

            Linux on supercomputers is by far the OS of choice and I fail to see what mileage anyone gets arguing against that?

            I would even go so far as to say that although I know little to nothing about supercomputer operations there is probably some spectacularly good reasoning that goes into using Linux as practically every supercomputers OS.

            I just don't see why some idiot, an MS fan or not would try and make something different out of that then what it is. Why make up something or rely on some half truth then try and bend it to make sense of some argument against Linux that would still sound stupid and uninformed.

            Real is real. It needs to be accepted and dealt with as such. If someone can ever explain to me in some rational terms why Windows is actually the better choice for supercomputers but is not being used on hardly any super computers at all I would like to hear it. My personal suspicion is that I have never heard such an explanation because a rational one dosnt exist.

            Now. On to other things. Such as....

            So what?
      • Odd that you would complain about trolling by trolling on your 1st post.

        There are medications and therapies that can help you with your mental issues.

        You need only ask for help.
        William Farrel
        • Is trolling a troll a crime?

          I mean it's pretty obvious that the guy wrote the entire article with the intention of pissing people off. He rally doesn't do anything else. The sign on his office door actually reads "SJVN - Lead Linux Troll".
          • Yep...

            ...he did it all to annoy conscientious MS fans. What's worse, he even forced them to read the article!
            John L. Ries
          • Actually, I was responding to DancesBecauseHeIsATroll

            We all know who and what SJVN is, and many (even some Linux supporters)question the sincerity of his words. It's understood where he's coming from.

            My comment was aimed at DancesBecauseHeIsATroll. When someone goes to the "multiple" efforts he does just to troll against MS, then you know there is something really wrong with his thought process.

            People like him need to seek help, or be left behind in life. It's sad, really.
            William Farrel
          • Linux is GOD

            Wintards need to realize this.
          • Well, put.

            What more can be said right?

            So your all done, now STFU and go away and we will start with number two....
          • And yet you read the articles

            Is there a reason?
            John L. Ries
          • And he did a good job, too

            Notice losers toddy and wilie are the first to show up.
          • Ha Ha.

            Funny...almost by half.
    • real work?

      A bit too broad isn't it? Linux fails in the consumer department because it is not a platform you can love... Devs can love it... But I would never give a Linux PC to my old mother... I don't want he to rip her hair off her head. Supercomputers? Okay. I guess the most customizable OS is good for that, but for the rest? Idk
      Emmanuel Fransson
      • Don't sell your old mother short.

        My old mother does just fine with her Linux PC.
        • She likely is, but doesn't know it....

          Kindle Fires, Android, Chromebooks, Sony device players, ...etc the list goes on and on. :)

          Of course you have to define PC as everything is really a PC these days. But a Chromebook would qualify in most people's books.
          • Eh? It's running Fedora 18.

            Were you seriously trying to tell me about my own parents' PC?
      • Who is "you"

        I like Linux very much, so you clearly don't mean me. If you mean "everybody", then you're using a non-standard and therefore deceptive definition of "everybody". So who do you mean?

        Advertisers routinely pull this trick too.
        John L. Ries
      • But I would never give a Linux PC to my old mother.

        I gave Linux to my mother, and she has no problems with it what so ever, she even said she likes it because it's fast.