Archive for the ‘TOP500’ Category

Race to Exascale – Nations Vie to Build Fastest Supercomputer

September 28th, 2015

“Discover Supercomputer 3” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Discover Supercomputer 3” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The race between countries to build the fastest, biggest or first of anything is nothing new – think the race to the moon. One of the current global competitions is focused on supercomputing, specifically the race to Exascale computing or a billion billion calculations per second. Recently, governments (President Obama’s Executive Order and China’s current lead in supercomputing) are allocating significant resources toward Exascale initiatives as they start to understand its vast potential for a variety of industries, including healthcare, defense and space exploration.

The TOP500 list ranking the top supercomputers in the world will continue to be the scorecard. Currently, the U.S. leads with 233 of the top 500 supercomputers, Europe with 141 and China with 37. However, China’s small portfolio of supercomputers does not mean it is not a significant competitor in the supercomputing space as China has the #1 supercomputer on the TOP500 list for the fifth consecutive time.

When looking to build the supercomputers of the future, there are a number of factors which need to be taken into consideration, including superior application performance, compute scalability and resource efficiency. InfiniBand’s compute offloads and scalability makes it extremely attractive to supercomputer architects. Proof of the performance and scalability can be found in places such as the HPC Advisory Council’s library of case studies. InfiniBand makes it possible to achieve near linear performance improvement as more computers are connected to the array. Since observers of this space expect Exascale systems to require a massive amount of compute hardware, InfiniBand’s scalability looks to be a requirement to achieve this goal.

As the race to supercomputing speeds up we expect to see a number of exciting advances in technology as we shift from petaflops to exaflops. To give you an idea of how far we have come and where we are heading here is a comparison from the speed of computers that powered the race to space and the goals for Exascale.

Speeds Then vs. Now – Race to Space vs. Race to Supercomputing

  • Computers in 1960s (Speed of the Race to Space): Hectoscale (hundreds of FLOPs per second)
  • Goal for Computers in 2025 (Speed of the Race to Supercomputing): Exascale (quintillions of FLOPs per second)

Advances in supercomputing will continue to dominate the news with these two nations making the development of the fastest supercomputer a priority. As November approaches and the new TOP500 list is released, it will be very interesting to see where the rankings lie and what interconnects the respective architects will pick.

Bill Lee

InfiniBand leads the TOP500 powering more than 50 percent of the world’s supercomputing systems

August 4th, 2015

TOP500 Interconnect Trends

TOP500 Interconnect Trends released the list of the 500 most powerful commercially available computer systems in the world, reporting that InfiniBand powers 257 systems, 51.4 percent of the list. This marks a 15.8 percent year over year growth from June 2014.

Demand for higher bandwidth, lower latency and higher message rates along with the need for application acceleration is driving continued adoption of InfiniBand in traditional High Performance Computing (HPC) as well as commercial HPC, cloud and enterprise data centers. InfiniBand is the only open-standard I/O that provides the capability required to handling supercomputing’s high demand for CPU cycles without time wasted on I/O transactions.

  • InfiniBand powers the most efficient system on the list with 98.8% efficiency.TOP100 Systems
  • EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) InfiniBand delivers 100Gbps and enters the TOP500 for the first time, powering three systems.
  • FDR (Fourteen Data Rate) InfiniBand at 56Gbps continues to be the most used technology on the TOP500, connecting 156 systems.
  • InfiniBand connects the most powerful clusters, 33 of the Petascale-performance systems, up from 24 in June 2014.
  • InfiniBand Is the leading interconnect for accelerator-based systems covering 77% of the list.

Not only is InfiniBand the most used interconnect solution in the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers, it’s also the leader in the TOP100 as well. The TOP100 encompasses the top 100 supercomputing systems, as ranked in the TOP500. InfiniBand is the natural choice for world-leading supercomputers because of its performance, efficiency and scalability.

The full TOP500 list is available at

Bill Lee

Author: admin Categories: InfiniBand, TOP500 Tags: , , , ,

To InfiniBand and Beyond – Supercomputing Support for NASA Missions

June 11th, 2015


High performance computing has been integral to solving large-scale problems across many industries, including science, engineering and business. Some of the most interesting use cases have come out of NASA, where supercomputing is essential to conduct accurate simulations and models for a variety of missions.

NASA’s flagship supercomputer, Pleiades, is among the world’s most powerful, currently ranking seventh in the United States and eleventh globally. It is housed at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility in California and supports the agency’s work in aeronautics, Earth and space science and the future of space travel. At the heart of the system is InfiniBand technology, including DDR, QDR and FDR adapters and cabling.

The incremental expansion of Pleiades’ computing performance has been fundamental to its lasting success. Typically, a computer cluster is fully built from the onset and rarely expanded or upgraded during its lifetime. Built in 2008, Pleiades initially consisted of 64 server racks achieving 393 teraflops with a maximum link speed of 20Gb/s. Today, the supercomputer boasts 160 racks with a theoretical peak performance of 5.35 petaflops, or 5,350 teraflops, and a maximum link speed of 56Gb/s.

To further demonstrate the power of the InfiniBand-based Pleiades supercomputer, here are several fun facts to consider:

  • Today’s Pleiades supercomputer delivers more than 25 million times the computational power of the first Cray X-MP supercomputer at the NAS facility in 1984.
  • The number of days it would take every person in the world to complete one minute of Pleiades’ calculations if they each performed one calculation per second, eight hours per day: 1,592.
  • The NAS facility has the largest InfiniBand network in the world, with over 65 miles (104.6 km) of cable interconnecting its supercomputing systems and storage devices-the same distance it would take to stretch to from the Earth’s surface to the part of the thermosphere where auroras are formed.

For additional facts and impacts of NASA’s high-end computing capability, check out its website here:

Bill Lee

FDR InfiniBand Continues Rapid Growth on TOP500 Year-Over-Year

November 22nd, 2013

The newest TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers was released at SC13 this week, and showed the continued adoption of Fourteen Data Rate (FDR) InfiniBand – the fastest growing interconnect technology on the list! FDR, the latest generation of InfiniBand technology, now connects 80 systems on the TOP500, growing almost 2X year-over-year from 45 systems in November 2012. Overall, InfiniBand technology connects 207 systems, accounting for over 40 percent of the TOP500 list.

InfiniBand technology overall connects 48 percent of the Petascale-capable systems on the list. Petascale-capable systems generally favor the InfiniBand interconnect due to its computing efficiency, low application latency and high speeds. More relevant highlights from the November TOP500 list include:

  • InfiniBand is the most used interconnect in the TOP100, connecting 48 percent of the systems, and in the TOP200, connecting 48.5 percent of the systems.

  • InfiniBand-connected systems deliver 2X the performance of Ethernet systems, while the total performance supported by InfiniBand systems continues to grow.

  • With a peak efficiency of 97 percent and an average efficiency of 86 percent, InfiniBand continues to be the most efficient of interconnects on the TOP500.

The TOP500 list continues to show that InfiniBand technology is the interconnect of choice for HPC and data centers wanting the highest performance, with FDR InfiniBand adoption as a large part of this solution. The graph below demonstrates this further:

TOP500 Results, November 2013

Image source: Mellanox Technologies

Delivering bandwidth up to 56Gb/s with application latencies less than one microsecond, InfiniBand enables the highest server efficiency and is ideal to carry multiple traffic types (clustering, communications, storage, management) over a single connection. As a mature and field-proven technology, InfiniBand is used in thousands of data centers, high-performance compute clusters and embedded environments that scale from two nodes up to clusters with thousands of nodes.

The TOP500 list is published twice per year and recognizes and ranks the world’s fastest supercomputers. The list was announced November 18 at the SC13 conference in Denver, Colorado.

Interested in learning more about the TOP500, or how InfiniBand performed? Check out the TOP500 website:


Bill Lee, chair of Marketing Working Group (MWG) at IBTA