SAN JOSE, Calif. Intel Corp. is on the rise in the world's fastest computers, but IBM Corp. is still top dog and is making plans to keep it that way.
Intel made modest gains as the dominant processor supplier in the latest version of the Top 500 supercomputer list released Tuesday (June 23) at a conference in Hamburg. But IBM retained its standing with the number one system on the list, the so-called Roadrunner which in May 2008 became the first to break the petaflops barrier.
In an effort to hang on to its top spot, Big Blue announced it has started the first of several planned collaborative R&D labs working with universities. The first is a Dublin lab in partnership with the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland that will work on new memory architectures, interconnecting technologies and fabric structures for exaflops-class computers. An exaflop is a million trillion calculations per second, a thousand times faster than today's petaflops systems.
The exascale research in Dublin will work on high-end computers that can be applied to business as well as technical and scientific applications. IBM will work with researchers from Trinity College Dublin, Tyndall National Institute in Cork, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.
"Developing exascale systems challenge space and energy limitations, requiring extremely sophisticated systems management and application software that can take advantage of this computational capability," said David Turek, vice president of deep computing at IBM. "This new collaboration is already at work solving some of these issues." he said in a press statement.
Beside Roadrunner at number one, IBM had two new systems in the top ten of the latest list. A new IBM BlueGene/P system in a German research institute ranked as the third fastest systems at 825.5 teraflops. A similar system at 415.7 Tflops at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ranked ninth on the list.
The IBM systems use a mix of x86 processors, IBM Power CPUs and IBM's Cell processors.
Meanwhile, Intel-based systems continue to dominate the brunt of computers on the Top 500 list. A total of 399 systems (79.8 percent) are now using Intel processors, up from 379 systems (75.8 percent) in the list published six months ago.
The IBM Power processors are the second most commonly used processor family with 55 systems (11 percent), down from 60. They are followed by the AMD Opteron family with 43 systems (8.6 percent), down from 59.
The Intel Core i7 CPUs, also known as the Nehalem family, made their first appearance in the current list and are used in 33 systems. Intel is just beginning to ship versions of the Nehalem processors capable of use in four-socket servers.
Intel also showed the fastest growth in processor adoption with its Harpertown, Clovertown and Gainstown quad-core chips. The processors rose from use in 253 last June to 287 systems in November and 336 systems in the current list.
Quad-core processors are now in use in 383 systems on the list. Another 102 systems are using dual-core processors. Only four systems still use single core processors.