IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. Photo: Flickr, CC
Big Blue Dominates the List
The geeks reading this will know about Top500.org, a reference website that ranks the world's fastest supercomputers by raw speed. It's all about teraFLOPS (10^12 operations per seconds), and until a few years ago, that's pretty much all that most people cared about. But these days, energy efficiency is becoming the dominant metric. Operations per watt is now key, and that's what the Green500 list uses to rank supercomputers. Read on for more details on how it works.
The June 2009 version of the list can be found here. The first thing to notice is that IBM is kicking ass when it comes to making its supercomputers energy-efficient. 18 out of the top 20 are supercomputers made by Big Blue (though it also makes more supercomputers than anyone else overall, so that helps). Another interesting fact: The #1 supercomputer when it comes to raw speed is #4 when it comes to energy efficiency.
The supercomputer that wrings out the most operations out of each watt of energy is located at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modeling of the University of Warsaw, and it achieves an impressive 536.24 million floating point operations per second (FLOPS) for each watt of electricity that it consumes. Most of the other computers in the Green top 20 are IBM Blue Gene/P models, and their energy efficiency is 371 million FLOPS for each watt of electricity.
This might not mean much to you, but the important thing is the trend: "Average efficiency increased by 10% (98 MFlops/Watt --> 108 MFlops/Watt), which is of significant note given that the aggregate power of the list increased by 15% (200 MW --> 230 MW) over the previous release. In short, while the supercomputers on the Green500 are collectively consuming more power, they are using the power more efficiently than before."
"Modern supercomputers can no longer focus only on raw performance. To be commercially viable these systems most also be energy efficient," said David Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM. Exactly.
Via Green500, CNET, iTWire
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