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World's most powerful big data machines charted on Graph 500

By Joab Jackson
November 16, 2012 10:17 AM ET

Currently, IBM's BlueGene/Q systems dominate this edition of the Graph 500. Nine out of the top 10 systems on the list are BlueGene/Q models -- compared to four BlueGene/Q systems on the November 2011 compilation. For Bader, this is proof that IBM is becoming more sensitive to current data processing needs. IBM's previous BlueGene system, BlueGene/L, was geared more towards floating point operations, and does not score as highly on the list.

Like the Top500, each successive edition of the Graph 500 shows steady performance gains among its participants. The top machine on the new list, Sequoia, traversed 15,363 billion edges per second. In contrast, the top entrant of the first list, compiled in 2010, followed only 7 billion edges per second. This jump of four orders of magnitude is "staggering," Bader said.

The Graph500 list is compiled twice a year, and, like the Top500, the results are announced at the Supercomputing conference, usually held in November, or the International Supercomputing Conference, usually held in June. Participation is voluntary: entrants will run either the reference implementations, or their own implementations, of the benchmark and submit the results.

Despite its name, the Graph 500 has yet to attract 500 submissions, though the numbers are improving with each edition. The first contest garnered 9 participants, and this latest edition has 124 entrants.

Bader is quick to point out that the Graph 500 is not a replacement for the Top500 but rather a complementary benchmark. Still, the data intensive benchmark could help answer some of the criticisms around the Top500's use of the Linpack benchmark.

Jack Dongarra, who helped create Linpack and now maintains the Top500, admitted during a discussion about the latest results of the Top500 at SC12 that Linpack does not measure all aspects of a computer's performance. He pointed to projects like Graph 500, the Green500 and the HPC Challenge that measure other aspects of supercomputer performance.

At least one system, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications' Blue Waters, was not entered in the Top500, because its keepers did not feel Linpack would adequately convey the true power of the machine.

Supercomputers are built according to the jobs they will execute, not to an arbitrary benchmark, Bader pointed out.

"At the end of the day, you are going to want the machine that does best for your workload," Bader said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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