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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
AMD, Intel Fight on Supercomputer List

AMD has gained ground on Intel in a list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers, but Intel's new Xeon 5100 "Woodcrest" processor has quickly carved out a place for itself.

The 28th TOP500 List was released in Tampa, FL during SC06, the Intermnational Conference for High performance Computing. Researchers from the University of Mannheim in Germany, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville compile the Top 500 list and present it at supercomputing shows. It's based on an incomplete but useful measure of system performance, a speed test called Linpack. For the Linpack benchmark, results are measured in trillions or calculations per second, or teraflops.

According to the list, the number of systems using Intel processors dropped from 301 in June's version of the twice-yearly Top 500 supercomputer list to 263 on the new list. AMD-based systems increased from 81 to 113 in the same period. On the other hand, the Intel-based systems have decreased greatly from 333 to 261 systems.

The trend in the supercomputing area reflects AMD's market share victories over rival Intel. But Intel's Woodcrest processor, which has helped the chipmaker reverse its general decline in server market share since it was released in June, has already arrived in 31 systems on the supercomputer list.

However, the top system on the list is again the IBM BlueGene/L system. it is installed at DOE?s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and gave a Linpack performance of 280.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second, or Tflop/s).

The new No. 2 systems is Sandia National Laboratories? Cray Red Storm supercomputer, only the second system ever to be recorded to exceed the 100 Tflops/s mark with 101.4 Tflops/s. The initial Red Storm system was ranked No. 9 in the last listing. AMD's Opteron processors are used in Cray's Red system.

Slipping to No. 3 from No. 2 last June is the IBM eServer Blue Gene Solution system, installed at IBM?s Thomas Watson Research Center with 91.20 Tflops/s Linpack performance.

The new No. 5 is the largest system in Europe, an IBM JS21 cluster installed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. The system reached 62.63 Tflops/s.

Sandia?s Dell PowerEdge system was re-measured at 53 Tflops/s and was able to hold on to No. 6 spot.

The NovaScale 5160 system built by the French company Bull and installed at France?s Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA) slipped to No. 7, despite a new Linpack measurement of 52.84 Tflops/s. The original system debuted in the No. 5 position in June.

No. 9 is now occupied by the largest system in Japan, a cluster integrated by NEC based on Sun Fire X4600 with Opteron processors, ClearSpeed accelerators, and an InfiniBand interconnect. The system is installed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

The current No. 10 system is the upgraded Cray XT3 system at DOE?s Oak Ridge National Laboratory with 43.48 Tflop/s. It would have been ranked at No. 5 in June, and one year ago its predecessor was also No. 10 with just 20.53 Tflop/s.

The Earth Simulator, built by NEC, which held the No. 1 spot for five lists, has now slipped out of the TOP10 and is ranked at No 14.

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