While it may not equal the hysteria of the iPad or the latest Android release, the news last week ranking the top 500 Super Computers in the world is significant, especially if you’re a Linux user. Why? Because Linux continues to dominant super computing. This year it’s added to its domination and occupies 470 of the top 500 spots. (The rest: 25 with Unix, mainly AIX, and Windows with only 5.) A detailed look at the OS breakdown can be found here. Jay Lyman also does a great breakdown of community vs paid Linux here.
We all rely on super computers ever day, even if we’re not aware of it. Super computers model our atmosphere so weathermen can make predictions accurately. (OK, maybe not the best example.) They are used in our nation’s defense. They are used for space travel and to model a virus’ spread through a population and to sequence the human genome.
So why do Linux users care? Because the work accomplished by the Super Computer manufacturers (IBM, HP, Fujitsu, Cray and so on) is poured back into the kernel and ends up helping all users. Just remember that today’s desktop PC was considered a super computer not that long ago. Advances in multi-core technology driven by super computing requirements of a few years ago are now used by financial services companies in trading applications to power their business.
One reason this is on my mind is we’re working on content for this year Linux End User Summit, happening in New York on October 10 – 12. There we gather the largest Linux end users in the world, including super computer customers and many financial services firms to collaborate with the developers and maintainers of Linux. Topics will include the real time kernel, low latency systems and how to monitor a kernel at sub 10 mili-second granularity. If you’re an end user pushing the capabilities of Linux, please request an invitation to join us here. We also have been closely working with the high performance computing industry at our CollaborationSummits, with last year’s HPC track especially well done.
And the super computer business is growing. Last week Fujitsu announced they are aiming for $1billion in super computer sales and are building what they expect to be the world’s fastest super computer. According to this BusinessWeek article, their computer “will string together 80,000 processers and be able to perform 10 quadrillion calculations in a second, more than four times as many as the current record holder.” Obviously, super computing and other high performance users push Linux in ways that mobile, desktop and enterprise users do not. While we all benefit from the scientific advances of super computing, we are working hard so Linux users and the Linux ecosystem will continue to benefit.