Ng: Supercomputers ranking

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Thursday, June 26, 2014


ONE of the benchmarks to determine the progress of a nation is to check how many supercomputers it has. In this respect, China is rapidly gaining ground. According to the Top 500 list of the fastest supercomputers, the fastest supercomputer for the third year in a row is the Tianhe-2 of Guangzhou China. It has a floating point calculation of 33 thousand trillion (quadrillion) per second.

China not only has the fastest, it is also rapidly gaining ground. Last year, of the 500 fastest, the United States owned 265. This year, the US has declined to 233 places, while China advanced from 63 to 76 out of the 500 fastest. This is significantly more than the United Kingdom’s 30, France’s 27 or Germany’s 23.

Not only is China gaining ground, but also Intel. Out of the 500 fastest, less than five percent were powered by Intel processors in 2000. At that time, Alpha, IBM, MIPS Sun Sparc and other proprietary processors dominated the fastest list. As of 2014, Over 80 percent of the world’s fastest systems were based on Intel, about 10 percent on AMD, and less than 10 percent on IBM’s PowerPC. The others have already almost disappeared.

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Windows Servers powered by Intel processors are not only gaining a lot of ground in terms of speed, but also in reliability. Intel servers running Windows servers five years ago used to have an average downtime of about five hours per year.

This was significantly more than the less than 30 minutes of downtime of PowerPC or Solaris servers using Unix. However, as of 2013, Windows Server with Intel has almost the same reliability as almost any server with downtimes of less than 20 minutes.

So you can say that Windows servers are fast approaching or even exceeding the 99.999% reliability rating uptime that most enterprise servers are capable of.

Computers of course are not only becoming faster and more reliable, but also cheaper.

The average cost of the same power computer has declined an average of 33 percent every year from 1999 to 2013. On the same token, storage cost (hard drives) has declined by 38 percent per megabyte for the periods 1992-2013. I remember back in 2000, Hotmail gave us an email allocation of only two megabytes. Now, most email systems either give you over 10 gigabytes, or in Yahoo’s case, unlimited. That’s a factor of more than 5,000 times. Bandwidth internet costs have also declined by an average of 27 percent from 1999-2013. In contrast, the cost of smartphones the last five years have been estimated to have become cheaper by an average of five percent every year. (www.twitter.com/wilsonng)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2014.

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