This week I am attending International Supercomputing (ISC) 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany. ISC is considered "the event" for High Performance Computing (HPC), Networking, and Storage. The world's leaders in HPC get together to show off innovations and exciting new advances in supercomputing technology and to participate in a host of industry discussions. Concurrent to ISC, The TOP500 List was published. This is a highly coveted ranking system of the world's top supercomputers released twice a year.
The race to build the world’s largest supercomputers now has a new leader, the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight, installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China. This high-performance monster is based on a new Chinese-developed CPU core and interconnect technology. Each CPU chip has 260 of the “ShenWei” cores and an aggregate memory bandwidth, per chip, of 136.5 GB/sec, using four 8GB banks of DDR3 memory. There are almost 41,000 nodes in the complete system, for a total of more than 10 million cores and over 1.3PBytes of memory. The machine consumes a healthy 15.5MW of power when running at full speed.
There are a few other interesting trends in the TOP500 list of supercomputers. First is a trend away from the use of GPU accelerators, which have historically dominated the echelons of the TOP500 list. In the past three years not one of the list leaders are using GPUs. This is not to say that the use of GP-GPU’s is over, but it seems that the highest performing computers are testing other approaches.
Another interesting trend in the top 10 of the TOP500 list is that there is only one new machine on the top 10 list, and that one is the new leader. Overall, there are 155 new systems in the Top500, with over half of them being in China. China now has more TOP500 computers than the USA.