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Oak Ridge reclaims supercomputing crown

12 Nov 2012
IBM SuperMUC supercomputer

A recent hardware upgrade has made the Oak Ridge National Laboratory once again home to the world's most powerful supercomputer.

In the latest edition of the Top 500 rankings, the Cray XK7 Titan supercomputing cluster claimed top spot with a performance capability of 17.59 petaflops. An upgrade on the Jaguar cluster which was ranked sixth in the last report, the Titan deployment includes around 560,640 processor cores and Nvidia K20X GPU accelerators.

The ranking marks the first time since June of 2010 in which Oak Ridge has led the Top 500 list. The now-retired Jaguar cluster had slipped to sixth overall in the previous ranking.

Titan's deployment ends a brief run atop the list enjoyed by the Livermore National Labs Sequoia compute cluster. The IBM-built system was bumped to second most powerful in the world with a performance capacity of 16.32 petaflops.

Third in the ranking was Japan's K Computer system. The Fujitsu-built cluster's 10.35 petaflop mark had been the highest in the world before being deposed by the Sequoia cluster last June. The Argonne National Laboratory Mira cluster was fourth on the list, followed by Germany's FJZ Juqueen system.

The top supercomputing cluster in the UK is the IBM-built Blue Joule deployment at the Daresbury Laboratory of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The system sports a top load of 1.2 petaflops, making it the 16th most powerful supercomputer on the planet.

Also landing within the top 25 was the University of Edinburgh's DiRAC cluster, which claimed the 23rd spot on the list.

Overall, IBM dominated the rankings, power three of the five top systems and six of the top 10 overall. Intel, meanwhile, claimed that its hardware powered the most energy efficient systems on the rankings.

The company noted that the Xeon Phi chips powered the University of Tennessee's Beacon cluster, which delivered 2.4 gigaflops of performance per each watt of energy consumed, the most efficient return among the Top 500 supercomputing ranks.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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