The Best & Fastest Computers are Linux Computers

The latest Top 500 List of Supercomputers is out and, once more, the world's fastest computers are Linux computers.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

While Linux still has trouble getting a grip on the desktop, everywhere else Linux rules. No where is that clearer than it is in the fastest of the fast: the supercomputers.

In the latest Top 500 Supercomputer list list, which was released on June 20th, Linux accounts for 91.00 % of the top supercomputers. Linux is followed by Unix with 4.6%; and Windows with 1.2%. When it comes to super-fast computers like supercomputers or IBM Jeopardy winning Watson, Linux rules.

Of the fastest of the fast, the top ten supercomputers all run Linux. The top ten, lead by the K Computer at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe Japan, are all capable of performing more than 8 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflop/s) This ranking is determined by how fast the computers can run Linpack, "a benchmark application developed to solve a dense system of linear equations." The highest ranking pure Windows supercomputer, the Magic Cube at China's Shanghai Supercomputer Center, comes in at 40th.

Gallery: Inside the world's top supercomputer

It's not just supercomputers and expert systems like Watson that run Linux though. The world's stock exchanges are all moving to Linux. They're doing it because in today's stock markets, microseconds can spell the difference between profit and loss. Only Linux is fast and stable enough to keep up the modern markets' high-frequency traders.

When a stock exchange needs to be able to handle over million trades a second, Linux is the one operating system for the job. While some people dislike HFT (high-frequency trading), and others, who hold stocks for years could care less, HFT accounts for a major part of today's stock exchanges' volume. Thus, it should come as no surprise that major exchange after major exchange, like the London Stock Exchange have moved to Linux.

The bottom line: You may never use Linux as your desktop operating system, but if you want to get anything done fast, chances are you'll be calling on Linux systems.

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