Who built the fastest computer in the world?

Step forward NEC...
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor on

Step forward NEC...

The supercomputer gene pool has expanded. Of the top 10 systems on a list of the 500 most powerful supercomputers announced Sunday, three machines are new, one is upgraded, and two are based on processors that have never before appeared on the list: IBM's PowerPC 970 and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron.

Top dog though in the world of supercomputing is NEC, who keeps HP in second place.

The IBM chips show up in a $5.2m system officially named X but informally dubbed "Big Mac" that Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University researchers assembled over two months from 1,100 dual-processor Apple G5 computers. That system ranked third with a performance of 10.3 trillion calculations per second, or 10.3 teraflops.

The Opterons are used in a 2,816-processor cluster built by Linux Networx for Los Alamos National Laboratory. Its sustained speed is eight teraflops.

The number one and number two systems - NEC's Earth Simulator and LANL's ASCI Q, built by Hewlett-Packard - maintained their positions with performance of 35.6 teraflops and 13.8 teraflops, respectively. Earth Simulator has held the top spot for four consecutive lists.

The Top 500 list is compiled by researchers at the University of Mannheim, the University of Tennessee and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Stephen Shankland writes for News.com

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