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The twice-a-year list of the Top 500 supercomputers documents the most powerful systems on the planet. Many of these supercomputers are striking not just for their processing power, but for their design and appearance as well. Here's a look at the top finishers in the latest Top 500 list, which was released Monday, November 15, 2011 at the SC11 conference in Seattle.
K SUPERCOMPUTER, RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS), Japan
The “K” supercomputer, a joint project by Fujitsu and the RIKEN center, maintained its position atop the newest edition of the TOP500 List of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, thanks to a full build-out that makes it four times as powerful as its nearest competitor. Installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, the K Computer it achieved an impressive 10.51 Petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores. The K Computer is the first supercomputer to achieve a performance level of 10 Petaflop/s, or 10 quadrillion calculations per second. In June 2011, the partially built K computer had taken the No. 1 position with a performance of 8.16 Petaflop/s.
TIANHE-1A, National Supercomputing Center, Tianjin, China
The Chinese Tianhe-1A system at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin remained in second in the latest survey, achieving a performance level of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second). One year ago, the Tianhe-1A system took the top spot, but was dethroned when the next TOP500 list was published in June 2011.
JAGUAR, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Jaguar was the top performer in the June 2010 survey, but in November 2010 fell back to second and in June slipped to third, where it remains with a 1.75 petaflop performance speed running the Linpack benchmark. Jaguar is a Cray XT5 system located at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee. While Jaguar fell a few flops short this year, it retains a leadership position in supercomputing style with its striking Jaguar motif.
Nebulae, which is located at the National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen, China, achieved 1.271 PFlop/s to rank fourth overall, down one position from the November survey. Nebulae was built from a Dawning TC3600 Blade system with Intel X5650 processors and NVIDIA Tesla C2050 GPU.
TSUBAME 2.0, GSIC Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Like the top-ranked Tianhe system, Tsubame 2.0 is a successor system that builds upon the design of a previously-ranked system. Tsubame 2.0 was developed by the Tokyo Institute of Technology in collaboration with NEC and HP, and is powered by more than 1,400 nodes using both HP Proliant servers and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. It is Japan's highest-ranked supercomputer. Plans are being developed for Tsubame 3.0.