94 Percent of the World’s Top 500 Supercomputers Run Linux


It’s already no secret that Linux tends to dominate as the operating system of choice on the world’s fastest supercomputers, but the release on Monday of the 40th edition of the twice-yearly Top500 List of the world’s top supercomputers made that connection more clear than ever.

Top500 Linux percentageA full 469, or 94 percent, of the top 500 supercomputers now run Linux, according to the Top500 November report, compared with 462 in the June edition of the twice-yearly evaluation. Just 457, or 91.4 percent, of the top machines ran Linux a year ago.

Meanwhile, only three of the world’s top supercomputers in this latest report — ranking at No. 132, 165 and 183, respectively — run Windows, compared with just two in June and one a year ago.

The Top500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Speed and Efficiency

Taking the crown for the No. 1 spot in this latest list is Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the U.S. Department of Energy. Titan achieved 17.59 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark using 261,632 of its Nvidia K20x accelerator cores.

Interestingly, Titan is also one of the most energy-efficient systems on the list, consuming a total of 8.21 megawatts and delivering 2,143 megaflops per watt. 

Slipping to the No. 2 spot in this latest report, meanwhile, was Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system that was top of the list in June. With 1,572,864 cores, Sequoia is the first system to top one million cores.

Rounding out the top five systems are Fujitsu’s K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan (No. 3); a BlueGene/Q system named Mira at Argonne National Laboratory (No. 4); and a BlueGene/Q system named JUQUEEN at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in Germany (No. 5), which is now the most powerful system in Europe.

Intel in the Lead

Looking at the data in geographical terms, the United States is the leading consumer of high-performance computing (HPC) systems, with 250 of the 500 systems on the list. Asia comes next, with 124 systems, followed by Europe, with 105.

Regarding vendors, meanwhile, Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest share of the Top500, accounting for 75.8 percent of the list. A full 84 percent of the systems included use processors with six or more cores; 46 percent tap eight or more cores. A total of 62 systems on the list use accelerator/coprocessor technology.

Full details on the new report can be found on the Top500 site. To mark the 20th anniversary and the 40th edition of the list, a special poster display is being featured at the SC12 conference (Booth 1925) this week in Salt Lake City.