Windows-based supercomputer breaks the petaflop speed barrier

By Tom Warren, on 15th Nov 10 9:29 am with Comments Off

Microsoft claims a Windows-based supercomputer has broken the petaflop speed barrier.

However, the achievement is not being recognized by officials that track the world’s fastest supercomputers, because the same identical hardware can achieve higher speeds using the Linux operating system.

Top500, who track the 500 fastest computer systems in use, released their latest benchmarks over the weekend. The tests, based on the Linpack performance measure, list five machines based on Microsoft’s Windows HPC 2008. Microsoft’s highest rank is 35, a Dawning 5000A supercomputer based in Shanghai, China. The cluster runs on AMD’s Opteron Quad Core architecture. Another four machines, Dell, NEC and two IBM clusters, place within the top 200 and are all based on Intel’s Xeon chips.

Microsoft claims that it has passed the petaflop barrier with Tsubame 2.0, a machine that’s based at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. “We saw outstanding performance from Windows HPC Server during our Linpack benchmarking run on Tsubame 2.0,” said Satoshi Matsuoka, professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. “It broke the Petaflop barrier and was on par with Linux at this scale. In a power-optimized configuration, it recorded over a Gigaflop/Watt, showing it is nearly three times more energy efficient than an average laptop. We were very excited to see this level of performance given Windows applications will be an important part of our work with industry partners.”

Microsoft’s achievement was not marked in the top 500 because the Tokyo Institute achieved higher performance in Linux, reports Network World. Although the difference in performance was only 5%, the researchers submitted the Linux scores and placed fourth in the top 500.