NZ canes Australia in supercomputer rankings

Weta Digital HP system is now one of eight NZ supercomputers in global Top 500

Only one Australian supercomputer has made it onto a list of the Top 500 announced at the SC09 forum in US this week compared with eight across the ditch in New Zealand.

The US dominates the list with 277 entries while the UK came in second with 45 ahead of Germany (27), France (25) and China (21).

While Australia has had an entry on the Top 500 list every year since 1993 it was easily surpassed in the most recent update by New Zealand's eight.

Coming in at 447 was Australian film-maker Animal Logic's HP-based supercomputer, which slipped from 227 in the June rankings and continues to slide further down the list after debuting at 87 in 2005. In contrast, New Zealand's top supercomputer, Weta Digital's HP cluster platform 3000BL, rated at 10 gigaflops, ranked 193. that system runs Linux as its operating system. Seven out of the eight New Zealand systems listed are from HP while one, at the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, is from IBM. The other six platforms are all listed as being at Weta as well. Weta and Gen-i are partners in the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre in Wellington.

The Animal Logic set up is also based on HP's Cluster Platform 3000BL System Model running Linux with Intel EM64T Xeon L54xx (Harpertown) 2500 MHz (10 GFlops) processing.

The most Australia has ever had on the list is 11 entries in 2005. The highest rank was in the same year with an Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) SGI Altix system coming at number 26.

While IBM systems dominated the top 10 with four entries in the most recent list, a Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US regained the top spot from the IBM Roadrunner system at the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. For the first time China entered the Top 10 at number five with a hybrid Intel-AMD system.

Hewlett-Packard led in the number of systems on the list, with 210 supercomputers or 42 percent, compared with 185 for IBM.

Australia's newest and most powerful supercomputer, launched in Canberra this week has not yet made the list. The A$15 million, 140 Teraflops Sun Constellation, housed at the Australian National University (ANU), is set to boost Australia's computational research capability into world rankings.

The list of the Top 500 supercomputers is compiled twice a year and is now in its 34th installment.

To make the Top500 list, compiled by academic researchers in the US and Europe entries must have computing power of 17.1 TFLOPS, up from 12.64 TFLOPS earlier this year, which represents increases in performance — and price. Just two years ago, the entry point on the list was 4 TFLOPS. And you can buy a system of similar power for as little as US$10,000.

See the full list and ranking methodology. — Additional reporting by Computerworld NZ staff

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