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Linux continues supercomputer domination

By Jay Lyman on November 15, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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Linux is on top, once again. On the bi-annual Top500 List, just released at the Supercomputing Conference in Seattle, IBM's Linux-powered Blue Gene/L retains the top slot. Blue Gene/L is not alone, as seven of the top 10 systems are running Linux. AIX, UNICOS, and Super-UX also appear in the top ten.

The last few Top500 Supercomputer Site lists left little doubt that Linux is the operating system of choice for these bleeding edge systems, but the latest list highlights the popularity of Linux in supercomputing and cites it as the OS of choice for 78% of the world's fastest machines. 391 of the systems rely on Linux of one flavor or another -- far more than Unix (yesterday's supercomputing king), Mac OS X, Solaris, or any others. Microsoft Windows didn't even turn up on the list.

Erich Strohmaier, list co-founder and editor, said that although 64-bit and multi-core processors are playing a larger role in the evolution of the supersystems, there are no signs that Linux will be dropping down the list. "Linux is the dominating OS in the supercomputing community and will keep this role," he said. "If anything, it will only enlarge its prevalence."

Strohmaier credited the cost-effectiveness of using Linux clusters to achieve greater processing power, and noted that the open source operating system also matches what many organizations already run on their servers.

While he said it is difficult to determine exactly which distributions of Linux are being used, the Top500 site's database now includes a breakdown of the speedy supercomputers by operating system. The database also includes variables such as geographic region, system vendor, interconnect technology, and computer and processor families.

Within Linux, different distributions and variations on the list include: Red Hat Linux, Red Hat Enterprise 3, SUSE Enterprise Server 8 and 9, UNICOS/Linux, and CNK/Linux. Strohmaier indicated it is standard Linux, rather than customized or combined uses of the open source operating system, that is most popular in the ultra high-end computing market.

"Customization is something the research community likes to do, but commercial and industrial customers are more interested in getting a particular solution that's supported," he said.

Strohmaier added he was somewhat surprised that the supercomputing industry has continued to grow with such strength. He also reported significant supercomputer turnover, as four of the top 10 fastest systems were displaced by new installations, and the last 221 systems from the June 2005 list were now too small to make the cut.

To maintain its top spot, IBM's BlueGene/L at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) doubled in size, and is now capable of record Linpack performance of 280.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second). Second on the latest list is a similar, Linux-based eServer Blue Gene system, BGW, at IBM's Thomas Watson Research Center, which reached 91.2 teraflop performance. Third is the Department of Energy's ASCI Purple, an AIX-powered system that reached 63.4 teraflop performance, also at LLNL. The number four and five spots are held by SGI's Columbia, a Linux-powered supercomputer that managed 51.87 teraflops, and Thunderbird, Sandia National Lab's Dell PowerEdge system that runs on Linux and hit 36.10 teraflops.

Strohmaier also noted the increased presence of AMD processors on the list. AMD's showing pales compared to Intel's 333 systems, but the company garnered 55 spots on the list and its share is growing. Strohmaier said 64-bit and multi-core technologies were a factor in the trend, but he thinks that the impact of new dual-core and multi-core processors had not yet played out on the list.

Strohmaier indicated that while Unix still holds its own on the list, no other operating system is likely to be used as much as Linux in the foreseeable Top500 future.

"Older Unix variations such as AIX are still used to some extent, but as server based systems are replaced by clusters, Linux becomes more and more dominant," he said. "Linux has become an industry standard in this community, and any other OS trying to break into this market (Mac OS X, Windows, etc.) would have to fight a steep, uphill battle."

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on Linux continues supercomputer domination

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where are all the rest of them?!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 12:32 AM
How about these guys:

1) AS-400/iseries
2) pseries, xseries, etc.
3) OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD
4) mainframes (do they still exist?)
5) Windows

Also - does anyone know if *ANY* OSX is among the top500 or, if not, where the most powerful Mac OSX (-: so to speak<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-) would be?


Re:where are all the rest of them?!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 12:54 AM
There are a few reports here:
<a href="" title=""></a>



still not accounted for :-(

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 05:50 AM
Thanks, but this still does not explain were the AS-400 iseries, the *BSDs and the rest are are


Re:where are all the rest of them?!?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 06:46 PM
Uh, you can look at the top500 list at the site. It's not like it's secret.

The highest ranking pseries is #3. Highest xseries is #53. There's _lots_ of both pseries and xseries on the list.

As for AS400 and mainframes, I'm quite sure you won't find em. They might be excellent in terms of RAS, but in terms of flops/$ they suck. Or any other relevant price/performance metric for HPC for that matter.

There's a couple of windows clusters. Mainly at the Cornell Theory center, which has some "partnership" with MS.

As for *BSD, I don't think you'll find them either. In this space, they don't really do anything that Linux doesn't do better.

There's a couple of OSX clusters. #16 and #20 for starters.


Sun is done

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 03:41 AM
Solaris - 4

Linux - 381

Sun engineers, update your resumes, start making phone calls. Your skills are transferable to the Linux community. And you'll be welcomed with open arms. Don't wait for Scott or Jonathan to kick you out onto the street the next quarter when Sun misses its numbers again and needs to satisfy Wall Street on cost cutting. You've seen the job losses over the last couple of years. You've survived so far. But most Sun engineers are very talented, and the not so talented ones have already been kicked onto the street. So there isn't any reason to expect you'll survive the next round of cost cutting.

Sun is doomed. It can no longer touch the top 500 supercomputers. It's still losing customers. It can't fight a worldwide community of developers for Linux. OpenSolaris is too little, too late. And just as with BSD, it doesn't have a chance not because of the code, but because of the license. The GPL is what made Linux what it is today. What allowed Linux to surpass BSD. Surpass Solaris. Surpass AIX. Surpass everything out there. Had Sun GPL's Solaris five years ago, then it might have had a chance. But Sun missed the wave.

Join the wave. Don't be consumed by it. Polish up your resumes, Sun engineers, and start putting out some feelers to the Linux community. You'll be snapped up in no time.

Do it today. Take the next step. Join the juggernaut. Don't get run over by it. Scott and Jonathan are set for life with all their options and golden parachutes. How about you? Do you have a golden parachute from Sun? No? Then do it. Update your resume. Start making some calls. Do it today. Don't wait till you are out on the street. Now's the time. Pick up the phone. We can't do it for you. Don't wait till Sun finishes morphing into SCO. Make the move today. We're waiting for your call.


You work for marketing?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 07:59 AM
I seriously don't know how to judge your comment. You have some points, but it's both terrifying and funny in another sense. A True Linux Zealot preaching or a brilliant parody on marketing speech?

I'm ambivalent on whether we need more people like you or less in the Linux community.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;-)


Top 500 report says nothing about operating system

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 16, 2005 07:14 PM
The 26th Top 500 report appears to say nothing about the operating system in use. Is that information available or is it too embarrassing for our dear Chairman?


Re:Top 500 report says nothing about operating sys

Posted by: JLyman on November 17, 2005 01:18 AM
As linked in the story, the database is at this address:

<a href="" title=""></a>

click on "Top500 Sublist Generator" and voila. The operating system breakdown is new with the latest list, and it's a nice way to look at the systems. You may also click on a listed system, then click "System Details" for more on each.


Theo de Raadt

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 17, 2005 02:27 AM
I wonder where Theo the Raadt is, didn't hear any comment from him about this (Theo de Raadt is the lead developer of OpenBSD). The last thing I heard from him was that Linux was a shit, a complete mess and he didn't know how people continued to use it. He supposed just for ignorance.

I guess that those enterprises running nearly 400 of the top 500 supercomputers in the world are just a gang of ignorant people who don't even know that OpenBSD exists and that it's free too. They just play with their million $$ equipment with such a stupid OS as Linux, not knowing they could achieve real excellence using some form of BSD (yes, why FreeBSD with it's strong focus in performance and technical excellence doesn't show up either? And where are all those who claim say that ok, Linux is fast, but unstable compared to BSD's? Do they really think that these supercomputers crash a couple of times every week while performing their heavy and mission critical tasks?)

BSD's are great, really. But why BSD people always try to say that Linux is shit? They say that Linux people make Linux because they hate Windows (which can be true to some extent), while they make BSD because they love Unix. But are they sure it's not because they hate Linux? BSD guys, don't compare yourself with Linux. You can't ! But you can compare yourself with other Unix systems and even win (not to mention Windows)!


BSD people

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 23, 2005 09:54 PM
BSD's are great, really. But why BSD people always try to say that Linux is shit?

Simply because they feel threatened by it: it challenges both their OS and their development model (and they really should not feel like this - these are apples and orange comparisons with two different prodcuts in mind)

But the reason why *BSD largely absent from this list is that *BSD focus on *network security* not performance. You wanna hyper-secure website - use OpenBSD. You wanna high-performance computer - use GNU/Linux.

You want the best of both worlds? Use Debian GNU/Linux (stable).


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