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MANNHEIM, Germany; BERKELEY, Calif.; and KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Advanced reports that Oak Ridge National Laboratory was fielding the world’s fastest supercomputer were proven correct when the 40th edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 List of the world’s top supercomputers was released today (Nov. 12, 2012). Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at Oak Ridge, achieved 17.59 Petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. Titan has 560,640 processors, including 261,632 NVIDIA K20x accelerator cores.
Do you remember the machine that took the first No. 1 position when the list debuted way back in 1993? Or how many consecutive lists were topped by the Earth Simulator? And when did Roadrunner make it into first place?
The back to school season starts with many new processors, although IBM's large server chips probably don't have much to do with the end of the holidays. And there are going to be a few delays – maybe with AMD's Steamroller and for sure with HP's memristor. They are out now: Intel's new Atom processors Z2670 for tablets with the Clover Trail platform including Clover View 2 processor, AMD's Trinity APUs for desktop PCs and, in the high-end sector, IBM's Power7+. Intel's Z2670 hasn't really outed itself though – as a pure OEM product it mostly remains a black box for the general public: no entry in the Intel database, no data sheets, no specification updates, no details on the inner workings, nothing about TDP, number of transistors, die size and so on. Well, the latter will surely soon get measured by the company Chipworks, after they have torn the chip down, like they already did with its predecessor, the Atom Z2460 (Medfield platform with Penwell-1 processor), for which they reported a modest surface area of 63.4mm².
Erich Strohmaier, a founding editor of the TOP500 list and leader of Future Technologies Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has written a cover story for Scientific Computing magazine on how the twice-yearly TOP500 list of the world’s top supercomputers provides a good look at the state of HPC technology. As one of the founding editors of the list, Strohmaier has compiled 39 such lists since 1993. While most of the HPC community focuses on the No. 1 spot and the top 10 systems, by digging deeper, a complete picture of what’s happening in high performance computing emerges. In the latest list from June 2012, the two lists illustrate how technology is refreshed, a process that is not always uniform. The primary reason for the different refresh rates is that the TOP500 List encompasses two HPC populations.
This paper is the revised and extended version of the Lorraine King Memorial Lecture Hans Werner Meuer was invited by Lord Laird of Artigarvan to give at the House of Lords, London, on April 18, 2012.