IBM Dominates Latest Top 500 List, But Apple Scores Four Spots [CORRECTED]

At the 2005 International Supercomputer Conference happening this week in Germany, organizers on Wednesday debuted the latest Top 500 list of the worldis fastest supercomputers. While IBM dominated the list with six of the top ten and 259 overall, Apple managed to score as high as number 14 [Corrected from #65], occupied by Virginia Techis System X, which features 1,100 Dual Processor 2.3GHz Xserve G5 machines. Other Apple supercomputers on the list were University of Illinois at Urbana Champaignis Turing Xserve Cluster (#66), UCLAis Plasma Physics Groupis Dawson Xserve Cluster (#162) and Bowie State Universityis Xseed Cluster (#166).

When the highly-touted System X cluster at Virgina Tech appeared in its rebuilt form last October, it would have been the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world, but by the time the November 2004 rankings were released, it placed seventh. Originally consisting of 1,100 Power Mac G5 desktop machines, System X was upgraded to Xserves at a cost of approximately US$600,000. It achieved a 15% speed boost as a result.

The top supercomputer was Lawrence Livermore Laboratryis BlueGene/L System, which was jointly developed by IBM and the Department of Energyis Nuclear Security Administration. It was number one in the last Top 500, which was released last November, and list compilers expect it to remain in that spot for the next few iterations. The former number one, NECis Earth Simulator, is now number four.

According to a press release issued by Intel, its Xeon processors were the most prevalent among the Top 500 supercomputers, with its Itanium 2 processors second-most common. In all, 333 of the Top 500 supercomputers sport Intel chips. The companyis chief rival, AMD, was featured in 25 of the supercomputers while IBM was found in 77 of them and Hewlett-Packardis PA Risc processors scored 36 spots. The most common architecture is the cluster, which was found in 304 of the systems. Clusters use the combined computing power of many off-the-shelf machines to create a supercomputer.

The Top 500 list comes out twice a year and is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of the U.S. Department of Energyis National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee. In a statement they released, they ran down some interesting bits of trivia regarding the list, including the fact that the supercomputer in the last spot on the current list sports as much computing power as all of the systems on the first Top 500 list, which came out in June 1993.

294 of the top 500 supercomputers are installed in the United States -- Europe is second with 114 systems and Asia has 58. In Europe, Germany hosts 40 of them while the U.K. has 32. Among Asian countries, Japan leads with 23 supercomputers while China has 19 of them.