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Distribution of supercomputers in the TOP500 list by country

The TOP500 project ranks and details the 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world. The project was started in 1993 and publishes an updated list of the supercomputers twice a year. The first of these updates always coincides with the International Supercomputing Conference in June, and the second is presented at the ACM/IEEE Supercomputing Conference in November. The project aims to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing and bases rankings on HPL,[1] a portable implementation of the high-performance LINPACK benchmark written in Fortran for distributed-memory computers. In the most recent list (November 2016), the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight is the world's most powerful supercomputer, reaching 93.015 petaFLOPS on the LINPACK benchmarks.

The TOP500 list is compiled by Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and from 1993 until his death in 2014, Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany.


Rapid growth of supercomputer performance, based on data from site. The logarithmic y-axis shows performance in GFLOPS.
  Combined performance of 500 largest supercomputers
  Fastest supercomputer
  Supercomputer in 500th place

In the early 1990s, a new definition of supercomputer was needed to produce meaningful statistics. After experimenting with metrics based on processor count in 1992, the idea arose at the University of Mannheim to use a detailed listing of installed systems as the basis. In early 1993, Jack Dongarra was persuaded to join the project with his LINPACK benchmarks. A first test version was produced in May 1993, partly based on data available on the Internet, including the following sources:[2][3]

  • "List of the World's Most Powerful Computing Sites" maintained by Gunter Ahrendt[4]
  • David Kahaner, the director of the Asian Technology Information Program (ATIP);[5] published a report in 1992, titled "Kahaner Report on Supercomputer in Japan"[3] which had an immense amount of data.[citation needed]

The information from those sources was used for the first two lists. Since June 1993, the TOP500 is produced bi-annually based on site and vendor submissions only.

Since 1993, performance of the #1 ranked position has grown steadily in accord with Moore's law, doubling roughly every 14 months. As of November 2014, Tianhe-2 was fastest with an Rpeak[6] of 54.9024 PFLOPS, is over 419,102 times faster than the fastest system in November 1993, the Connection Machine CM-5/1024 (1024 cores) with Rpeak of 131.0 GFLOPS.[7]

Architecture and operating systems[edit]

In June 2016, a Chinese computer made the top based on SW26010 processors, a new, radically modified, model in the Sunway (or ShenWei) line.

As of November 2016, TOP500 supercomputers are now all 64-bit, mostly based on x86-64 CPUs (Intel EMT64 and AMD AMD64 instruction set architecture), with few exceptions (all based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures) including 22 supercomputers based on Power Architecture used by IBM POWER microprocessors, seven SPARC (all with Fujitsu-designed SPARC-chips, one of which surprisingly made the top in 2011 without a GPU, currently ranked seventh), and two, seemingly related, Chinese designs: the ShenWei-based (ranked 11 in 2011, ranked 158th in November 2016) and Sunway SW26010-based ranked 1 in 2016, making up the remainder (another non-US design is PEZY-SC, while it's an accelerator paired with Intel's Xeon). Before the ascendance of 32-bit x86 and later 64-bit x86-64 in the early 2000s, a variety of RISC processor families made up most TOP500 supercomputers, including RISC architectures such as SPARC, MIPS, PA-RISC and Alpha.

In recent years heterogeneous computing, mostly using Nvidia's graphics processing units (GPU) as coprocessors, has become a popular way to reach a better performance per watt ratio and higher absolute performance; it is almost required for good performance and to make the top (or top 10), with some exceptions, such as the mentioned SPARC computer without any coprocessors. An x86-based coprocessor, Xeon Phi, has also been used.

Share of processor architecture families in TOP500 supercomputers by time trend

All the fastest supercomputers in the decade since the Earth Simulator supercomputer have used operating systems based on Linux. As of November 2016, 498 or 99.6% of the world's fastest supercomputers use the Linux kernel. The remaining two or 0.4%, run AIX, a variant of Unix.[8] Within those 99.6% running Linux, are the most powerful supercomputers including all those ranking as the top ten (and virtually all the fastest computers).

The non-Linux computers on the list – the two AIX ones – run on POWER7 (ranked 386th and 387th[9]). Those are made by IBM. IBM has higher ranked computers running Linux, including places 4 and 9.

Since November 2015, no computer on the list runs Windows. In November 2014, Windows Azure[10] cloud computer was no longer on the list of fastest supercomputers (its best rank was 165 in 2012), leaving the Shanghai Supercomputer Center's Magic Cube as the only Windows-based supercomputer on the list, until it also dropped off the list. It had been ranked 436 in its last appearance on the list released in June 2015; its best rank was 11 in 2008.[11]

Top 10 ranking[edit]

Top 10 positions of the 48th TOP500 in November 2016[12]
Rank Rmax
Name Model Processor Interconnect Vendor Site
country, year
Operating system
1 93.015
Sunway TaihuLight Sunway MPP SW26010 Sunway[13] NRCPC National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi
 China, 2016[13]
Linux (Raise)
2 33.863
Tianhe-2 TH-IVB-FEP Xeon E5–2692, Xeon Phi 31S1P TH Express-2 NUDT National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou
 China, 2013
Linux (Kylin)
3 17.590
Titan Cray XK7 Opteron 6274, Tesla K20X Gemini Cray Oak Ridge National Laboratory
 United States, 2012
Linux (CLE, SLES based)
4 17.173
Sequoia Blue Gene/Q A2 Custom IBM Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
 United States, 2013
Linux (RHEL and CNK)
5 14.015
Cori Cray XC40 Xeon Phi 7250 Aries Cray National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center
 United States, 2016
Linux (CLE)
6 13.555
Oakforest-PACS Fujitsu Xeon Phi 7250 Intel Omni-Path Fujitsu Joint Center for Advanced High Performance Computing, Kashiwa
 Japan, 2016
7 10.510
K computer Fujitsu SPARC64 VIIIfx Tofu Fujitsu Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS)
 Japan, 2011
8 9.779
Piz Daint Cray XC50 Xeon E5-2690v3, Tesla P100 Aries Cray Swiss National Supercomputing Centre
  Switzerland, 2016
Linux (CLE)
9 8.587
Mira Blue Gene/Q A2 Custom IBM Argonne National Laboratory
 United States, 2012
Linux (CNK)
10 8.101
Trinity Cray XC40 Xeon E5–2698v3 Aries Cray Los Alamos National Laboratory
 United States, 2015
Linux (CLE)


  • Rank – Position within the TOP500 ranking. In the TOP500 list table, the computers are ordered first by their Rmax value. In the case of equal performances (Rmax value) for different computers, the order is by Rpeak. For sites that have the same computer, the order is by memory size and then alphabetically.
  • Rmax – The highest score measured using the LINPACK benchmarks suite. This is the number that is used to rank the computers. Measured in quadrillions of floating point operations per second, i.e., petaFLOPS.
  • Rpeak – This is the theoretical peak performance of the system. Measured in PFLOPS.
  • Name – Some supercomputers are unique, at least on its location, and are thus named by their owner.
  • Model – The computing platform as it is marketed.
  • Processor cores – The number of active processor cores actively used running LINPACK. After this figure is the instruction set architecture or processor microarchitecture of the cores named. If the interconnect between computing nodes is of interest, it's also included here.
  • Vendor – The manufacturer of the platform and hardware.
  • Site – The name of the facility operating the supercomputer.
  • Country – The country in which the computer is located.
  • Year – The year of installation or last major update.
  • Operating system – The operating system that the computer uses.

Other rankings[edit]

Top countries[edit]

Numbers below represent the number of computers in the TOP500 that are in each of the listed countries.

Countries with TOP500 supercomputers.svg

Systems ranked #1 since 1976[edit]

Number of systems[edit]

By number of systems as of June 2016:[17]

New developments in supercomputing[edit]

In November 2014, it was announced that the United States was developing two new supercomputers to exceed China's Tianhe-2 in its place as world's fastest supercomputer. The two computers, Sierra and Summit, will each exceed Tianhe-2's 55 peak petaflops. Summit, the more powerful of the two, will deliver 150–300 peak petaflops.[19] On 10 April 2015, US government agencies banned selling chips, from Nvidia, to supercomputing centers in China as "acting contrary to the national security... interests of the United States";[20] and Intel Corporation from providing Xeon chips to China due to their use, according to the US, in researching nuclear weapons – research to which US export control law bans US companies from contributing – "The Department of Commerce refused, saying it was concerned about nuclear research being done with the machine."[21]

On 29 July 2015, President Obama signed an executive order creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative calling for the accelerated development of an exascale (1000 petaflop) system and funding research into post-semiconductor computing.[22]

In June 2016, Japanese firm Fujitsu announced at the International Supercomputing Conference that its future exascale supercomputer will feature processors of its own design that implement the ARMv8 architecture. The Flagship2020 program, by Fujitsu for RIKEN plans to break the exaflops barrier by 2020 (and "it looks like China and France have a chance to do so and that the United States is content – for the moment at least – to wait until 2023 to break through the exaflops barrier."[23]) These processors will also implement extensions to the ARMv8 architecture equivalent to HPC-ACE2 that Fujitsu is developing with ARM Holdings.[23]

Large machines not on the list[edit]

Some major systems are not listed on the list. The largest example is the NCSA's Blue Waters which publicly announced the decision not to participate in the list[24] because they do not feel it accurately indicates the ability for any system to be able to do useful work.[25] Other organizations decide not to list systems for security and/or commercial competitiveness reasons. Additional purpose-built machines that are not capable or do not run the benchmark were not included, such as RIKEN MDGRAPE-3 and MDGRAPE-4.

Computers and architectures that drop off the list[edit]

IBM Roadrunner[26] is no longer on the list (or any other using the Cell coprocessor, or PowerXCell as in the Roadrunner supercomputer), but it is an example of a computer that would easily be included, if it had not been decommissioned, as it is faster than the one ranked 500th.[27]

Conversely, computers, such as the Microsoft Azure,[28] have dropped off the list only because the stated performance numbers are no longer high enough, while in principle, the computers could have been upgraded to get faster (or not) without being reported.

All Itanium based systems (including the one which reached second rank in 2004[29])[30] and (non-SIMD-style) vector processors (NEC-based such as the Earth simulator that was fastest in 2002[31]) have also fallen off the list. Similarly the Sun Starfire computers that occupied many spots have been overtaken.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Petitet, R. C. Whaley, J. Dongarra, A. Cleary (24 February 2016). "HPL - A Portable Implementation of the High-Performance Linpack Benchmark for Distributed-Memory Computers". ICL - UTK Computer Science Department. Retrieved 22 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "An Interview with Jack Dongarra by Alan Beck, editor in chief HPCwire". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Statistics on Manufacturers and Continents
  4. ^ "The TOP25 Supercomputer Sites". Archived from the original on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Where does Asia stand? This rising supercomputing power is reaching for real-world HPC leadership.". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Rpeak – This is the theoretical peak performance of the system. Measured in PFLOPS.
  7. ^ "Sublist Generator". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Top500 - List Statistics - November 2015". Retrieved 17 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "IBM Flex System p460, POWER7 8C 3.550GHz, Infiniband QDR". TOP500 Supercomputer Sites. 
  10. ^ "Microsoft Windows Azure". 
  11. ^ "Magic Cube - Dawning 5000A, QC Opteron 1.9 GHz, Infiniband, Windows HPC 2008". 
  12. ^ a b "November 2016 - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  13. ^ a b "China Tops Supercomputer Rankings with New 93-Petaflop Machine - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  14. ^ "November 2015 - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  15. ^ "June 2015 - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  16. ^ "November 2014 - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  17. ^ "List Statistics". Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  18. ^ "Sugon". 
  19. ^ Balthasar, Felix. "US Government Funds $425 million to build two new Supercomputers". News Maine. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Nuclear worries stop Intel from selling chips to Chinese supercomputers". CNN. 2015-04-10. Retrieved 2016-08-17. 
  21. ^ "US nuclear fears block Intel China supercomputer update". 
  22. ^ Executive Order -- Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative (Executive order), The White House - Office of the Press Secretary, 29 July 2015 
  23. ^ a b Morgan, Timothy Prickett. "Inside Japan's Future Exascale ARM Supecomputer". The Next Platform. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  24. ^ Blue Waters Opts Out of TOP500 (article), 16 November 2012 
  25. ^ Kramer, William, Top500 versus Sustained Performance – Or the Ten Problems with the TOP500 List – And What to Do About Them. 21st International Conference On Parallel Architectures And Compilation Techniques (PACT12), 19–23 September 2012, Minneapolis, MN, US 
  26. ^ "Roadrunner - BladeCenter QS22/LS21 Cluster, PowerXCell 8i 3.2 Ghz / Opteron DC 1.8 GHz, Voltaire Infiniband". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "Cluster Platform DL360e Gen8, Xeon E5-2450 8C 2.100GHz, Gigabit Ethernet". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "Faenov - Cluster Platform SL230s Gen8, Xeon E5-2670 8C 2.600GHz, Infiniband QDR - TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". 
  29. ^ "Thunder - Intel Itanium2 Tiger4 1.4GHz - Quadrics". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "Columbia - SGI Altix 1.5/1.6/1.66 GHz, Voltaire Infiniband". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  31. ^ "Japan Agency for Marine -Earth Science and Technology". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 

External links[edit]