California Digital Holds Onto Prominent Position

Just a year ago, California Digital&'s “Thunder” supercomputer, installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., was ranked No. 2 on the list. Built with 4,000 Itanium 2 processors in a 20-teraflop solution, it was billed by the company as the world&'s fastest Linux cluster when it was deployed.

The system builder&'s ‘Thunder&' remains among the world&'s top 10 supercomputers.

“It&'s always, in some ways, disappointing to see one&'s system fall down the list over time,” Bone said. “It&'s also indicative of continued interest in deploying computers of that capability. In a larger sense, it&'s good to see more and more machines bringing needed computers to more and more users.”

Bone declined to say whether California Digital is currently working on any new systems that might crack the Top 500 ranking. The list has become a much-watched benchmark in the high-performance cluster world, where teraflops are thrown around to describe systems much like gigabytes are in the desktop and notebook world.

“If you look at the trends, it continues to be very exciting,” Bone said. “Every few years, the amount of power that can be deployed just astounds folks. Supercomputing in that regard is not substantially different than the performance improvements we see in regular notebooks, desktops and workstations. The pace of technological innovation is fairly constant throughout all those areas.”

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In addition to Thunder, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory also host the No. 1 supercomputer on the list: IBM&'s BlueGene/L, built with more than 65,000 PowerPC processors.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant was responsible for several systems on the list. And California Digital isn&'t alone among system builders. Verari Systems, San Diego, built a system with 992 Opteron processors for Houston-based oil and gas industry company VeritasDSG and remained on the list at No. 300. It, too, slipped back in its position from last year&'s ranking at No. 137.

The Top 500 list is compiled by scientists and researchers at the University of Mannheim in Germany; the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.; and the NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.