IBM slips on super-fast list, but don't count it out

After a number of years leading the pack, IBM's supercomputers are no longer the fastest kids on the block.

However, they still have more speed demons than any other company in the game, with a dominating 44.6 percent of the top 500 machines sporting the IBM logo. Of those 223 computers, many of them got their start in Rochester.

That's IBM's highest percent since November 2007, when it had 46 percent of the machine on the list.

This year's percent total overshadows rival Hewlett-Packard's 28.8 percent of the Top 500 list.

While it might not be running the flashiest speedsters, IBM still has the most muscle when it comes to super computing.


Still IBM has cherished its moments in the winners' circle spotlight in the past.

It used to be a common practice for Big Blue to ship out a news release pointing out its numbers every time the twice-annual Top 500 supercomputer list rolled out.

However, they were quiet when the latest list was issued Monday.

For the first time since the list was started in 1993, the top 10 machine rankings remained the same as they were in June.

That means IBM's only box in the top 10 is its now-venerable Roadrunner, the Rochester-designed system that was the first ever to break the petaflop speed barrier.

That was in 2008 when it was No. 1 on the list as a young superstar. It marked a milestone in computing history that is comparable to breaking the four-minute mile record.

While it has not been sent down to the minor leagues yet, the shine is off of Roadrunner a bit these days as it sits in the 10th spot three years later.

Japan’s K Computernow struts in the No. 1 spot, clocking in at 10.51 petaflops, about 10 times the speed of IBM's Roadrunner.


The Chinese Tianhe-1Asystem trails behind in the second spot, running at 2.57 petaflops performance.

Cray, the U.S. supercomputing firm, has three machines in the top 10, in the third, sixth and seventh spots.

The Cray XT5 system called Jaguaris running at a 1.75 petaflops.

China is the second-biggest user of supercomputers with 75 of the 500 machines running in that country.

However, the United States is still the home of Big Iron computing, with 52 percent of the top 500 based here.

Rochester IBM's Power processors provide the horse power that drives 49 of the fastest computers in the world.

While Big Blue is not on top this time around, it might not be safe to count them out of the race in the next few rounds of the Top 500 list.

This week IBM unveiled its latest Blue Gene/Q machine with the capacity to hit 100 petaflops.

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