Linux dominates supercomputers as never before

Linux dominates supercomputers as never before

Summary: The latest list of the fastest supercomputers in the world is out -- and not only does Linux rule, it's almost eliminated all of its competition.


NEW YORK --  For years, Linux has ruled supercomputing. So, it came as no surprise to anyone at the Linux Enterprise End-User Summit near Wall Street that once again the Top500 group found in its latest supercomputer ranking that Linux was the fastest of the fast operating systems.

June 2014 Linux Supercomputers
With 97 percent of the world's fastest supercomputers running Linux, the open-source operating system has eliminated almost all its rivals.

As one Red Hat representative said, "The only thing that would be surprising about Linux being the top dog would be if anything else even came close." He doesn't have any reason to worry.

In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors. In the June 2014 Top 500 supercomputer list, the top open-source operating system set a new high with 485 systems out of the fastest 500 running Linux. In other words 97 percent of the fastest computers in the world are based on Linux.

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Of the remaining 16, 13 run Unix. They appear to be running IBM AIX since they're all running on IBM Power processors. The fastest of these boxes, the United Kingdom's weather predicting system, ECMWF, ranked 60th in the world.

Two Windows boxes squeezed into the list. The best of these, coming in at 294th place, is at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center. The remaining supercomputer, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology machine, runs a mix of AIX/Unix and Linux. Solaris and BSD Unix no longer have even a toe-hold in the rankings.

The overall performance growth rate of all the systems, however, is at a historical low. For the slowest supercomputer, number 500, performance has "lagged behind historical growth trends for the past five years, a trajectory that now increases by only 55 percent each year. Between 1994 and 2008, however, the annual growth rate for the No. 500 systems’ performance was 90 percent."

The hardware vendors are trying to goose supercomputer performance by making faster processors. Intel's forthcoming Xeon Phi many-core chip, codenamed Knight's Landing, is designed to deliver up to three trillion double precision floating point operations per second (3 Teraflops) in a single processor socket. That's three times faster than Intel's current highest performance chip.

At the same time, Linux is tackling its own performance bottlenecks. A great deal of the talk at Linux Enterprise End-User Summit has been about how to drastically improve the latency in both storage and network stacks.

Why so much emphasis on performance when Linux is already the operating system of choice for anyone wanting the fastest computing? Because research and businesses, especially the stock markets and trading companies, not only want but need even faster computers. To meet this demand for ever more speed, Linux is not resting on its laurels but working hard on going ever faster.

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Topics: Hardware, Data Centers, Linux, Open Source

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  • Linux still struggles to make any impact on the Desktop….

    However things are improving given that Microsoft have ceased supporting XP. Lightweight Desktop environments especially as the likes of Cinnamon and Unity are a little heavy for many XP era machines.
    • What's your point?

      Real world estimates put Linux desktops at about 7-10%. I am not talking about the likes of NetMarketShare and IDC that only count 3 or 4 commercial Linux desktops, but whatever, Linux will never take over the desktop, but who cares?

      The desktop is a shrinking market that eventually will just be absorbed into the more general group of consumer computing devices along with phones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops.

      I think it's obvious by now that the future of computing is not the desktop, it's massive server farms feeding content and data to lighter and lighter devices. In both of half of this equation, Linux already dominates.

      That's not say the desktop will be going away anytime soon, and as far most of the open source community is concerned, it is fine for Microsoft to continue to provide a ever more restrictive desktop experience to the masses.

      For those, like me, that want an unrestricted, fast, reliable desktop, their will many Linux distros to choose from for a long time to come.
      • Re: Real world estimates put Linux desktops at about 7-10%….

        I would be interested as to where you sourced those figures from?
        • I'll answer your question after you answer mine.

          I asked first. What's your point?

          Oh, what the heck. Steve Ballmer is my source.
      • Ha ha ha

        7-10%? You're joking! Between contracts and permanent jobs I have yet to encounter any place that uses Linux desktops.
        And I'm sure there are very few consumers [i.e. non-techies] who use them either.
        Netmarketshare lists them at around 1.6% - climbing 0.6% in over 10 years].
        I don't see many with Win XP jumping to Linux. The majority [according to Netmarketshare went to Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and a bit to OS X].
        • maybe in US

          in Europe there is lots of business and individuals who use linux on desktop
        • Linux desktops

          There are several assumptions made with these numbers. First, that all WIndows computers are only running Windows. There are a lot of dual-boot computers with Linux on them. Second, they are primarily looking at enterprise computers. Individuals are much more likely to try a new OS than an IT department with hundreds or thousands of computers to manage. Third, that 1.6% number is US only. In Europe, Linux has an estimated 5% market share due to many governments and businesses using Linux/FOSS. It's never going to overtake Microsoft unless MS shoots itself in the foot. But that is okay. Tesla will never overtake GM, either.
          Iman Oldgeek
          • Individuals more likely to try an OS?

            Well that depends on which individuals you are talking about. 100% of the people that I know who are 1. Not IT and 2. Not enthusiasts use whatever OS happend to come pre-installed on their computer at the time they bought it.

            Another thought on "There are a lot of dual-boot computers with Linux on them". First that works both ways and second, it implies that for one reason or another the individual in question is either unwilling or unable to cut the cord to whatever OS came pre-installed on the computer.

            As far as EU adoption goes, hear in the US we have a certain "ABM" (i.e. anything but Microsoft) crowd who hate Microsoft quite separately from the pros and cons of the product. In the EU and elsewhere outside the US you can add to that an ACBA crowd (i.e. any country but America) who don't want to use an American product, once again regardless of its technical merit.
          • Geeks, maybe. Not consumers ...

            ... who generally do not have the "special knowledge" required to install and administer Linux.
            M Wagner
          • Special Knowledge?

            No special knowledge required to install and setup Linux with many distributions - much easier and faster than Windows. Just installing the security patches can take hours after a fresh install of Windows. Ubuntu Linux typically takes 15-30 minutes to install, depending on the speed of the computer and the updates about the same.

            In Ubuntu, if you need to add a printer (either USB or networked) you go to Settings, click on Printers, click Add. The applet will search for all available printers for a few seconds (seems like 10-15 seconds) and find your printers. Select the one you want, wait while it searches for drivers, pick the driver (usually identifies a recommended) and you are done. I have only run across one printer where I had to download the Linux drivers from the manufacturer's website.

            Open the software center in Ubuntu and add the xsane scanning software to get a standardized scanning interface for scanners and multifunction printers/scanners/fax devices.

            The look and feel of Ubuntu (and many other Linuxes) is much more logical than the kluge that Microsoft has done with Windows 8.

            Yes, I still run Windows 7 in a virtual machine on my Linux computers for a couple applications that don't have a good alternative in Linux.

            Yes, I also have a Windows 8 boot on a laptop that came with Windows 8, and on a desktop (purchased one copy when it came out). What I learned from Windows 8 is to advise customers to stick with Windows 7 and hope Microsoft cleans up its act with the release of Windows 9. There are just too many applications in the business world that are not compatible with Windows 8. Microsoft has made it difficult to make a customized installation with the default installation, but I believe they have released some tools a few months after the Win 8 release, but I haven't had the time or desire to see if they work or not.
          • also chromebooks

            all runing linux desktop
          • and win8 is malware according to the chinese government

            they are the biggest growth market in the world and windows won't get a foot hold if the government have any say.
          • Not true. The Chinese government has simply ...

            ... decided to standardize all government offices on Windows 7.
            M Wagner
          • Chrome OS is NOT Limux and neither is Android.

            Take them out of the picture and you are back under 2%.
            M Wagner
        • Ha Ha to you

          You're probably American, so you think that what's going on in the US is also going on in the rest of the world, eh! In Europe, for example, Linux is popular on the desktop, in particular in government outfits. So, widen your horizon, get a passport and come see us, you might be enlightened, even as a close-minded Amurkan.
          • We do tend to do that

            We have a big country here (fourth largest in area in the world), so we travel more often than not to another state, rather than another country (and plane tickets to Europe or the Far East are expensive anyway); when we do go abroad, it's usually to Canada or Mexico. And we're the most powerful country on the planet, so most of us feel less need to acquaint ourselves with the rest of the world (or even to learn a foreign language) than do most others.

            But you don't have to insult us (that just turns people off); it's much more effective to merely point out what the world looks like from where you live when it seems appropriate.
            John L. Ries
          • Americans may be myopic, but ...

            ... but world wide market share puts Windows near 90%, Mac OSX around 8%, and UNIX/Linux under 2%.

            Android, iOS, Chrome OS, and Windows RT do not figure in because none of them are full-featured preemptive multitasking systems.
            M Wagner
          • Ya. Long accepted by the sane and unbiased.

            It hasn't changed notably in years and years. And until there is an extraordinarily compelling reason to, it wont.

            Its just the fact. Dosnt mean that Linux isn't the best choice for some, Linux is the best choice for some. It dosnt mean Linux is a bad OS, its actually generally a very good OS.

            But why lie about Linux being close to 10% of the worlds desktop OS of choice. Macs don't even hit that high.

            People need a little self esteem it seems to turn down the lies.
          • Well chrome OS might just change that

            We don't know the future. I expect Google to push along with it's mountain of cash.
        • Netmarketshare, really?

          That's your source? You do know Netmarketshare only counts commercial Linux, right?
          They list Redhat as the top Linux desktop distro.

          People in the real world would list Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora as the top 3, with Redhat somewhere much further down the list.