Supercomputers More Power Hungry But More Efficient

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Machines are using more energy but using it more efficiently claim computer researchers and makers including IBM

The compilers of a list of top 500 most energy efficient supercomputers claim that although the machines are actually consuming more energy than before they are actually doing it in a more efficient way.

According to the Green500 list, updated regularly throughout the year, average efficiency has increased by 10 percent between the publication of the 4th edition of the list in November 2008 and the 5th edition in June 2009.

“Average efficiency increased by 10 percent (98 MFlops/Watt to 108 MFlops/Watt), which is of significant note given that the aggregate power of the list increased by 15 percent (200 MW to 230 MW) over the previous release. In short, while the supercomputers on the Green500 are collectively consuming more power, they are using the power more efficiently than before,” according to a statement by the organisers of the list Wu-chun Feng, director of SyNeRGy Laboratory.

IBM has 18 machines in the to 20 of the list including the number one most energy efficient system in the world an IBM BladeCenter QS22 at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modeling, University of Warsaw.

“Modern supercomputers can no longer focus only on raw performance,” said David Turek, vice president, deep computing, IBM. “To be commercially viable these systems most also be energy efficient. IBM has a rich history of innovation that has significantly increased energy efficiency of our systems at all levels of the system that are designed to simultaneously reduce data center costs and energy use.”

IBM is also keen to point out that what it calls “the world’s fastest supercomputer” an IBM supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratories, which first broke through the petaflop barrier, is ranked the fourth most energy efficient supercomputer in the world capable of over 444 Mflops per watt of energy. Meanwhile, the second fastest supercomputer in the world manufactured by Cray is ranked 90th on the Green500 List, producing only 152 Mflops per watt, IBM said.