The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory remains the world’s most powerful, according to a ranking list released Monday.
It’s the third time that Summit, a IBM-built supercomputer, has been number one on the semiannual TOP500 list of of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Summit debuted at number one in June 2018. That was the first time since 2012 that the United States had the most powerful supercomputer in the world. Summit retained the top spot in November.
The Sierra supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, remained at number two on the list released Monday, after climbing there from number three in November. The United States continues to have the top two systems in the world, a position that China held a year and a half ago.
Officials celebrated the launch of Summit in a ceremony attended by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on June 8, 2018. The supercomputer is capable of 200 petaflops, or 200,000 trillion calculations per second. That makes it about eight times more powerful than Titan, its predecessor, which was once the world’s fastest.
Summit delivered a record 148.6 petaflops on a benchmark test called High Performance Linpack, or HPL, a TOP500 press release said Monday. That was a slight improvement from six months ago, when Summit scored 143.5 petaflops. Summit debuted at 122.3 petaflops in June 2018.
Sierra, which is also built by IBM, remained unchanged at 94.6 petaflops, TOP500 said. Sierra improved its performance from 71.6 petaflops to 94.6 between June and November 2018, when it climbed to the number two spot on the TOP500 list.
Summit and Sierra both derive their computational power from IBM Power9 central processing units (CPUs) and NVIDIA V100 graphics processing units (GPUs).
Besides being the most powerful, Summit has been described as the world’s smartest supercomputer, a machine that can learn. As big as two tennis courts, Summit was reported to cost $200 million, and it has 4,608 compute servers. Each has two 22-core IBM Power9 central processing units and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 graphics processing unit accelerators. That’s more than 9,000 conventional processors and nearly 28,000 graphics processors, or about 37,000 total.
Titan is a Cray XK7 system that was the world’s fastest in November 2012. It will be disassembled and removed to install Frontier, a new supercomputer that is expected to be the world’s most powerful when it debuts at ORNL in 2021. Perry attended an announcement ceremony for that supercomputer in May.
Frontier will be a $600 million Cray supercomputer that is expected to perform at greater than 1.5 exaflops. It will be able to solve calculations up to 50 times faster than today’s top supercomputers, exceeding a quintillion, or 1018, calculations per second. That’s a billion billion calculations per second.
TOP500 said its list of top 10 computers remains largely unchanged this month, with only two new entries—and one of those was an existing system that was upgraded with additional capacity.
But, for the first time in its 26 years, all 500 systems on the list deliver a petaflop or more on the benchmark test, with the entry level to the list now at 1.022 petaflops.
Remaining at number three on the TOP500 list released Monday is Sunway TaihuLight. That’s a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology, and it is installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. It is powered by more than 10 million SW26010 processor cores, and it is performed at 93.0 petaflops in the TOP500 test, not far behind Sierra.
Still at number four is the Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A) supercomputer, developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology and deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou. It used a combination of Intel Xeon and Matrix-2000 processors to achieve a test result of 61.4 petaflops.
Both Chinese supercomputers have previously been the world’s fastest.
Besides being the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, Summit is also third on the Green500 list, with its energy efficiency rated at 14.7 gigaflops per watt.
TOP500 said energy efficiency hasn’t changed much since the previous list was released in November 2018. The average energy efficiency of systems on the Green500 list has improved from 3.0 gigaflops per watt six months ago to 3.2 gigaflops today.
A supercomputer called Shoubu system B maintained its number one position with an efficiency of 17.6 gigaflops per watt. Nvidia’s DGX SaturnV Volta system held on to second place with 15.1 gigaflops per watt, followed by Summit at 14.7 gigaflops per watt and the AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure at 14.4 gigaflops/watt.
China leads by number of machines, US by performance
China claimed the most TOP500 systems with 219 machines on the list released Monday, followed by the United States with 116. Japan was in third place with 29 systems, followed by France with 19, the United Kingdom with 18, and Germany with 14.
Despite the U.S. being a distant second in total number of systems, it claimed a large number of systems near the top of the list, TOP500 said. That enabled it to maintain its lead in overall benchmark capacity, with 38.4 percent of the aggregate list performance. (Summit and Sierra alone represented 15.6 percent of the list’s High Performance Linpack flops.) China, with its comparatively smaller systems, took second place, with 29.9 percent of the performance total.
Chinese vendors lead the way
China’s dominance in system numbers was also reflected in vendor shares. Lenovo claimed the greatest number of systems on the list with 173, followed by Inspur with 71, and Sugon with 63. All three improved on their system share from six months ago, TOP500 said.
HPE, with 40 systems, and Cray, with 39 systems, occupied fourth and fifth place, respectively. Bull, as the only European-based system vendor on the list, claimed 21 systems, followed by Fujitsu with 13, and IBM with 12. However, since IBM was the vendor of Summit, Sierra, and a number of other large systems, the company’s aggregate TOP500 performance was 207 petaflops, a number only exceeded by Lenovo, with 14 times as many systems.
The rest of the top 10
Frontera, the only new supercomputer in the top 10 on Monday, attained its number five ranking by delivering 23.5 petaflops on HPL. The Dell C6420 system, powered by Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 processors, is installed at the Texas Advanced Computing Center of the University of Texas.
At number six was Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Lugano, Switzerland. It’s equipped with Intel Xeon CPUs and NVIDIA P100 GPUs. Piz Daint remains the most powerful system in Europe.
Trinity, a Cray XC40 system operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, improved its performance to 20.2 petaflops, which earned it the number seven position. It’s powered by Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors.
The AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure is installed in Japan at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and it is listed at number eight, delivered 19.9 petaflops. The Fujitsu-built system is equipped with Intel Xeon Gold processors and NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs.
SuperMUC-NG was in the number nine position with 19.5 petaflops. It’s installed at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (Leibniz Supercomputing Centre) in Garching, near Munich. The Lenovo-built machine is equipped with Intel Platinum Xeon processors, as well as the company’s Omni-Path interconnect.
The upgraded Lassen supercomputer captured the number 10 spot, with an upgrade that boosted its original 15.4 petaflops result on HPL to 18.2 petaflops. Installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lassen is the unclassified counterpart to the classified Sierra system and shares the same IBM Power9/NVIDIA V100 GPU architecture.
Intel and NVIDIA set the pace in silicon
From a processor perspective, Intel continued to dominate the TOP500 list, with the company’s chips appearing in 95.6 percent of all systems. IBM Power CPUs are in seven systems, followed by AMD processors, which are present in three systems. A single supercomputer on the list, Astra, is powered by Arm processors.
A total of 133 systems on the TOP500 list employ accelerator or coprocessor technology, down slightly from 138 six months ago. Of these, 125 systems use NVIDIA GPUs. About half of those (62) using the latest Volta-generation processors, with the remainder (60) based on Pascal and Kepler technology.
See the TOP500 press release here.
See the TOP500 list here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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