[LWN Logo]
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 23:25:01 -0600 (CST)
From: Anas Nashif <nashif@top500.org>
To: lwn@lwn.net
Subject: Clusters@TOP500 Debuts -- TOP500 Team Is Publishing a New List About

Contact: Hans W. Meuer, Erich Strohmaier, Jack J Dongarra and Horst D.
Simon at clusters@top500.org 

Clusters@TOP500 Debuts -- TOP500 Team Is Publishing a New List About
High-Performance Clusters 

Reflecting the strong emerging trend of cluster computing in
high-performance computing (HPC), the team which has compiled the TOP500
list of global supercomputing sites has developed a similar list to rank
the world's top 100 cluster computing systems. 

A variety of concepts and technologies are used to build these clusters
and they are used for quite different applications. "It is quite possible
that by the middle of this decade clusters in their myriad forms will be
the dominant high-end computing architecture," said Thomas Sterling of the
California Institute of Technology and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in his editorial for the start of this new project.  

Currently there is no publicly available basis which would allow the
compilation of statistics about different technologies and the application
areas of cluster computing.  To provide a basis for these statistics about
cluster computing, the TOP500 team therefore decided to assemble a
separate list of high-performance computing clusters called "Clusters @

"This is similar to the situation in the general HPC market a decade ago
before we started the TOP500 project," said Hans W. Meuer, Professor at
the University of Mannheim, Germany, who began the work that led to the
TOP500 Supercomputer lists. "Unfortunately, the coverage of cluster
computing by the TOP500 is not sufficient to produce specialized
statistics about this increasingly important HPC segment. This is mainly
due to the scarcity of results of the Linpack benchmark on such systems." 

The selection of an appropriate cluster specific benchmark for such a
ranking is critical and the collection of results for it time consuming,
according to Erich Strohmaier, a benchmarking expert at the U.S Department
of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC)
and a member of the TOP500 team since it began. To promote the development
of this new list the TOP500 team therefore decided to start the collection
of data about high-performance clusters and rank them initially by
peak-performance only. 

At the same time TOP500 team is discussing with the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Task Force on Cluster Computing
(IEEE TFCC) the proper choice of a benchmark for ranking cluster. 

"This benchmark will be used to rank the new cluster list once a
sufficient number of results are available,"  said Jack Dongarra of the
University of Tennessee and a member of the TOP500 Team. "In the meantime
the HPC cluster community will already benefit from the available
information about prevailing cluster technologies and applications." 

The collection of information has already started and will continue on an
ongoing basis. More background information, access to all collected data,
and interfaces for submitting information about new cluster systems can be
found at http://clusters.top500.org/

About the TOP500 Supercomputer Sites 

The TOP500 project was started in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for
tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing. Twice a year,
a list of the sites operating the 500 most powerful computer systems is
assembled and released. The best performance on the Linpack benchmark is
used as performance measure for ranking the computer systems. The list
contains a variety of information including the system specifications and
its major application areas. Analyzing these data in the past has revealed
major trends in HPC architectures, technologies, and applications together
with the changes in market shares of companies and geographical
distribution of consumers and producers of HPC systems. All information
about the TOP500 and its results can be accessed at http://www.top500.org/

About the IEEE TFCC 

The TFCC is an international forum, which promotes cluster computing
research and education. It participates in helping to set up and promote
technical standards in this area. The Task Force is concerned with issues
related to the design, analysis, development and implementation of
cluster-based systems. Of particular interest are: cluster hardware
technologies, distributed environments, application tools and utilities,
as well as the development and optimization of cluster-based applications.
Additional information my be found at http://www.ieeetfcc.org/

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