Newer supercomputers favor energy efficiency over raw speed, Top500 rankings suggest

Six of the seven most efficient machines, measured in flops/watt, are new entrants, all of them from China

Supercomputer spending is increasingly focusing on energy efficiency rather than raw performance, the latest edition of the Top500 list of the world's most powerful computers suggests.

There's no change at the top, with China's 33.86 petaflop/s Tianhe-2 in the lead for the sixth consecutive time.

In fact, there are only two changes to the top 10. Trinity, built by Cray for the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, jumped straight in at sixth place, while another Cray machine climbed up the rankings to eighth place. Hazel-Hen, at Germany's Höchstleistungsrechenzentrum Stuttgart (HLRS), now has double the number of cores it had six months ago, when it was known as Hornet and held 23rd place.

The Top500 list, now in its 46th edition, is published twice yearly by supercomputing experts in the U.S. and Germany.

In recent years the list's compilers have noted that the pace of supercomputer growth is slowing compared to the long-term trend, and this year, they say, is no exception.

The most significant changes, though, come when the world's 500 fastest supercomputers are ranked by energy efficiency, measured in flops/watt.

The leader in the efficiency stakes at 4.86 gigaflops/watt is the two-year-old Tsubame-KFC/DL, built by NEC for the Tokyo Institute of Technology, but the next six are new entrants, all from China.

In second place is a Cluster W780I built by Sugon for the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Modern Physics, delivering 4.78 Gflops/W.

It's followed by five machines using TS10000 HPC Servers from Inspur, sited at unnamed IT companies and Internet service providers.

The seven most efficient machines are all built using a mix of Intel Xeon E5 and Nvidia Tesla processors. None score particularly highly for raw speed: they are ranked 392nd, 318th, 456th, and 225th through 228th in absolute performance, respectively, but they all deliver more than 3.77 Gflops/W.

Only about half the machines on the Top500 list are rated for energy efficiency. The average was 1.45 Gflops/W this time around, compared to 1.35 Gflops/W in July.

China's presence at the top of the energy efficiency rankings is indicative of wider geographical changes in the list.

The number of U.S. systems in the top 500 has dropped to 201, from 231 in July, while the European share has dropped from 141 to 107. China has now overtaken Europe, with 109 machines on the list, up from 37 in July.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?