The 10 most powerful supercomputers on the planet

The latest Top500 list details the world's mightiest silicon

supercomputers
High-performance computing at the very top end

Top500.org's latest list of, well, the top 500 supercomputers in the world was released this morning, ranking these mighty machines by their performance on the organization's demanding Linpack benchmark. Here's a quick glance at the latest top 10.

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IBM supercomputer
Credit: Heise Online
No. 10: IBM Development Engineering DARPA Trial Subset

This IBM Power7-driven entry clocked in at 1.5 petaflops on Top500's tests, using just 63,360 total processor cores -- by far the smallest number in the top 10.

(Pictured: illustration of the Power7+ architecture used in the DARPA system)

Fermi supercomputer
No. 9: Fermi

Based at Italy's CINECA joint venture, Fermi is the first Blue Gene/Q-based system on our list, clocking in at 1.72 petaflops driven by 163,840 PowerPC cores.

Tianhe-1A supercomputer
Credit: Nvidia
No. 8: Tianhe-1A

The only Chinese entry into this top 10, Tianhe-1A turned in a 2.56 petaflop performance mark, on the strength of its 186,368 Xeon processor cores. It's also the first machine on this list to use co-processors for additional performance -- 100,352 Nvidia 2050 cores, to be precise.

Stampede supercomputer
Credit: UT-Austin
No. 7: Stampede

New to this top 10 is Dell's Stampede, which rode its new Intel Xeon Phi processors -- a total of 204,900 cores' worth -- to a 2.66 petaflop benchmark. Installed at the University of Texas in Austin, Stampede also packs 112,500 accelerator cores as part of the Xeon Phi platform.

SuperMUC supercomputer
No. 6: SuperMUC

A hardy perennial of the Top500 list, SuperMUC is based at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center near Munich. Clocking in at 2.89 petaflops, it's powered by 147,456 Intel Sandy Bridge processors.

JUQUEEN supercomputer
No. 5: JUQUEEN

Juelich-based JUQUEEN eclipsed its German rival SuperMUC to capture the fifth spot on the November list, posting a 4.14-petaflop mark on the Linpack test. Unlike SuperMUC, it's powered by a 393,216-core Blue Gene/Q system.

Mira supercomputer
No. 4: Mira

Also using the Blue Gene/Q architecture is Mira, of the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratories. However, it packs substantially more cores than JUQUEEN -- 786,432, to be exact -- in return for a nearly doubled performance return of 8.16 petaflops.

K Computer
Credit: Fujitsu
No. 3: K Computer

Dropping one place into third from the last list is the Fujitsu K Computer, at Japan's RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Sciences. Using 705,024 SPARC64 cores, it produced a Linpack score of 10.51 petaflops.

Sequoia supercomputer
No. 2: Sequoia

The first million-core system, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories' Sequoia was the top dog in the last Top500 list. It cranks out a whopping 16.32 petaflops with its 1,572,864 processor cores. Sequoia is the fourth and last Blue Gene/Q system on the latest list.

Titan supercomputer
No. 1: Titan

The appropriately named Titan is a Cray XK7 powerhouse, producing 17.59 petaflops of performance using 560,640 AMD Opteron processor cores and 261,632 Nvidia K20x accelerators. It operates at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.