Opteron climbs supercomputer rankings

AMD's server chip shows up in more and more high-performance supercomputers ranked on latest Top 500 list.

Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chip soared up the latest ranking of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, while Intel's Itanium continued to fall and IBM took top honors among vendors.

The latest list was expected to be unveiled at the International Supercomputing Conference in Germany on Wednesday. The Top 500 project measures the world's fastest supercomputers according to the Linpack benchmark, which focuses on solving linear equations.

Servers based on x86 processors from Intel and AMD have been taking over the list in recent years. Intel's processors can be found in 301 of the Top 500 systems, with its 64-bit Xeon processors accounting for 118 of those systems. However, that's down from 333 in November, the last time the list was released. AMD's Opteron processors now can be found in 81 of the servers, up dramatically from 25 systems last year and 55 systems in November. Intel's Itanium processor continued its descent down the list, now accounting for just 37 systems compared with 46 in November and 79 a year ago.

IBM had the most systems on the list, with 243, led by the most powerful supercomputer in the world, the Blue Gene/L system at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. IBM also had the top three systems on the list--with the Blue Gene Watson system in the company's own labs coming in second and Lawrence Livermore's ASC Purple in third--and accounted for four of the top 10.

Hewlett-Packard was the second-most prevalent vendor with 30.8 percent of the systems on the list. No other vendor had more than 5 percent of the list, but SGI, Dell and Cray each cracked the top 10 with a supercomputer based on its technology.

The U.S. has the most systems, with 298, up from 267 a year ago. Europe lost some ground, moving down to 83 systems, while there are now 93 supercomputers on the list based in Asia-Pacific.

China has almost caught Japan, which used to dominate the Asian rankings, said Horst Simon, associate laboratory director at Lawrence Berkeley Labs and one of the administrators of the list. Japan has 29 systems on the list to China's 28.

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