Photo finish: IBM inches out Cray in supercomputer race

IBM's Roadrunner big winner in latest Top500 contest, along with Intel, AMD and HP

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Intel Corp. provides processors for 370 of the 500 systems in the Top500 list, or 75.8% of the total. The Intel total in the latest list is virtually the same as the previous Top500 list. 

At the same time, Opteron processors from Intel rival AMD help run seven of the Top 10 systems in the world. Overall, AMD Opterons and IBM Power processors are used in 59 and 60 of the Top500 systems, respectively.

On the hardware side, Hewlett-Packard Co. grabbed the lead from IBM in the latest list. Six months ago, IBM had 210 systems on the list and HP had 183. This time HP came in with 209 systems, compared with 188 for IBM.

Dongarra said that the first two petaflop machines will likely open the door for more to follow in the coming months. "We'll start to see more and more machines passing this point," he said. "I would not be surprised to see one of the [IBM] BlueGene/P machines passing this point soon. We broke through this mark. That's a big thing. Now everybody follows that first machine to enter. We'll have a whole wave of machines cross that barrier."

It takes a whole lot more speed to even make the Top500 list now than it did six months ago. The entry level to the list moved up to 12.64 teraflops on the Linpack benchmark, compared with 9 teraflops six months ago, according to the Top500 organization. The No. 500 system on this latest list would have made No. 267 just six months ago.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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