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Intel Powers More Than Half of Top 500 Supercomputers

Standards-based building blocks changing the face of supercomputers (June 22, 2004)

More than half of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world are now based on Intel Itanium or Xeon processors, reflecting the trend away from deploying proprietary, one-of-a-kind supercomputers toward a building-block approach that takes advantage of standards-based, off-the-shelf components to build these powerful machines.

Intel Corporation's platforms, whose influence in supercomputing has been gaining ground rapidly in recent years, laid claim to 286 sites in the "TOP500" list of supercomputer sites released today by the University of Mannheim, the University of Tennessee and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Three years ago Intel had only three systems on the list. Intel Itanium processors are the foundation for the second-ranked new "Thunder" system at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) near San Francisco and also the fastest "cluster" computer. The system took only five months to build and deploy.

Intel-based systems now hold four of the top ten spots on the list. In addition to the LLNL system, Intel processors powers systems at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (fifth place on the TOP500), which is based on 2,500 Intel Xeon processors; Institute of Physical and Chemical Res. (seventh place), which uses 2,048 Intel Itanium 2 processors; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (ninth place), which employs 1,936 Intel Itanium 2 processors.

"Intel architecture's rapid rise in supercomputing reflects the acceptance of the benefits of Intel's standards-based building-block approach with its benefits of reduced design time and cost effectiveness versus the proprietary methods," said Abhi Talwalker, Intel vice president and general manager, Enterprise Platforms Group. "Using off-the-shelf components, supercomputers that used to take years to build can now be constructed in a matter of months with Intel Itanium or Xeon processors at a fraction of the cost. It's a trend that hasn't been missed by the industry as supercomputing, once the sole province of well-funded scientific pursuits, is now within the realm of a wide variety of disciplines."

Intel Itanium 2 processors have seen strong adoption in supercomputers this past year, more than tripling from 19 systems in June 2003 to 61 in the current TOP500 report. Intel Xeon processors also showed healthy growth from 100 systems a year ago to 225 in the same period.

Intel has two server architectures, which makes up approximately 85 percent of the server market segment share.* The Itanium 2 processor family is targeted at business critical enterprise servers and technical computing clusters while the Intel Xeon processor family is broadly used for general purpose IT infrastructure.

World's Fastest Cluster Computer
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's supercomputer, codenamed Thunder, took over the number two spot on the TOP500 in the new report. Configured with 4,096 Intel Itanium 2 processors, the Thunder supercomputer is world's most powerful cluster system. It is capable of 19.94 teraflops of performance. Thunder helps support LLNL's national security and science programs in fields such as inertial confinement fusion, materials science, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, atmospheric science, biology and seismology.

"Using Intel Itanium 2 building blocks, Thunder was constructed in just five months," said Mark Seager, assistant department head at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and program leader responsible for platforms. "Taking the standards-based approach with Intel components cut the time to get the system online, and satisfied a number of other factors that were critical to our needs, including price/performance, cooling, reliability and investment protection with the future processor upgrades."

The semi-annual TOP500 list of supercomputers is the work of Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee.

The complete report is available at

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information about Intel is available at

Intel, Itanium and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

* International Data Corp., (IDC), Quarterly Server Tracker, Q4, 2003.


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Related Keywords:Intel, Supercomputers, Itanium, Xeon, University of Mannheim, the University of Tennessee, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LLNL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, cluster, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Institute of Physical and Chemical Res., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Abhi Talwalker, Mark Seager, Hans Meuer, Erich Strohmaier, Horst Simon, Jack Dongarra,


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