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Distribution of the top 500 supercomputers among different countries as of November 2015

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 in November at the ACM/IEEE Supercomputing Conference. 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.

The TOP500 list is compiled by Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (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 was born 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 benchmark. A first test version was produced in May 1993, partially based on data available on the Internet, including the following sources:[2][3]

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 steadily grown in agreement with Moore's law, doubling roughly every 14 months. As of November 2014, the fastest system, the Tianhe-2 with a 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

As of November 2015, TOP500 supercomputers are mostly based on x86-64 CPUs (Intel EMT64 and AMD AMD64 instruction set architecture), with few exceptions (all RISC-based) including 39 supercomputers based on Power Architecture used by IBM POWER microprocessors, seven SPARC (all Fujitsu/SPARC-based, one of which surprisingly made the top in 2011 without a GPU, currently ranked fourth), and one ShenWei-based (ranked 11 in 2011, ranked 65th in November 2014) making up the remainder. Prior to the ascendance of 32-bit x86 and later 64-bit x86-64 in the early 2000s, a variety of RISC processor families made up the majority of 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. A 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 a Linux-based operating system. As of November 2015, 494 or 98.8% of the world's fastest supercomputers use the Linux kernel. The remaining six or 1.2%, run the AIX Unix variant operating system.[8] Within those 98.8% running Linux are the most powerful supercomputers including those ranking as the top ten.

The non-Linux computers on the list – the six AIX ones – are all running on POWER7 (highest one ranked 208th[9]). Those are made by IBM (except for one ranked 418th by Hitachi[10]). IBM has higher ranked computers running Linux.

Since November 2015, no computer on the list runs Windows. In November 2014, Windows Azure[11] 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 that one also dropped off it, that computer runs Windows HPC 2008 and was ranked 360 (its best rank was 11 in 2008).[12]

Top 10 ranking

Top 10 positions of the 46th TOP500 in November 2015
Rank Rmax
Name Computer design
Processor type, interconnect
Vendor Site
Country, year
Operating system
1 33.863
Tianhe-2 NUDT
Xeon E5–2692 + Xeon Phi 31S1P, TH Express-2
NUDT National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou
  China, 2013
Linux (Kylin)
2 17.590
Titan Cray XK7
Opteron 6274 + Tesla K20X, Cray Gemini Interconnect
Cray Inc. Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  United States, 2012
Linux (CLE, SLES based)
3 17.173
Sequoia Blue Gene/Q
PowerPC A2, Custom
IBM Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  United States, 2013
Linux (RHEL and CNK)
4 10.510
K computer RIKEN
SPARC64 VIIIfx, Tofu
Fujitsu RIKEN
  Japan, 2011
5 8.586
Mira Blue Gene/Q
PowerPC A2, Custom
IBM Argonne National Laboratory
  United States, 2013
Linux (RHEL and CNK)
6 8.101
Trinity Cray XC40
Xeon E5-2698v3, Aries
 United States, 2015
Linux (CLE)
7 6.271
Piz Daint Cray XC30
Xeon E5–2670 + Tesla K20X, Aries
Cray Inc. Swiss National Supercomputing Centre
   Switzerland, 2013
Linux (CLE)
8 5.640
Hazel Hen Cray XC40
Xeon E5-2680v3, Aries
Cray Inc. High Performance Computing Center, Stuttgart
 Germany, 2015
Linux (CLE)
9 5.537
Shaheen II Cray XC40
Xeon E5–2698v3, Aries
Cray Inc. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
  Saudi Arabia, 2015
Linux (CLE)
10 5.168
Stampede PowerEdge C8220
Xeon E5–2680 + Xeon Phi, Infiniband
Dell Texas Advanced Computing Center
  United States, 2013
Linux (CentOS)[13]


  • 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 benchmark 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 therefore named by their owner.
  • Computer – The computing platform as it is marketed.
  • Processor cores – The number of active processor cores actively used running LINPACK. After this figure is the processor architecture 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 situated.
  • Year – The year of installation/last major update.
  • Operating system – The operating system that the computer uses.

Other rankings

Top countries

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


Systems ranked #1 since 1993

Number of systems

By number of systems as of November 2015:[16]

Top processor generation
Top vendors
Operating system family

New developments in supercomputing

In November 2014, it was announced that the United States was developing two new supercomputers to dethrone China's Tianhe-2 from its position 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.[17] On 10 April 2015, US government agencies banned Intel Corporation from providing Xeon chips to China under the fear that China would use the chips to help conduct nuclear research.[18]

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.[19]

Large machines not on the list

A few machines that have not been benchmarked are not eligible for the list, such as NCSA's Blue Waters. 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

IBM Roadrunner[20] 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.[21]

Conversely, computers, such as the Windows Azure,[22] have dropped off the list simply because the stated performance numbers are no longer high enough, while theoretically 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[23])[24] and vector processors (NEC-based such as the Earth simulator that was fastest in 2002[25]) have also fallen off the list. Similarly the Sun Starfire computers that occupied many spots have been overtaken.

See also


  1. "HPL U+00AD A Portable Implementation of the High-Performance Linpack Benchmark for Distributed-Memory Computers". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK DONGARRA by Alan Beck, editor in chief HPCwire". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Statistics on Manufacturers and Continents
  4. "The TOP25 Supercomputer Sites". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Where does Asia stand? This rising supercomputing power is reaching for real-world HPC leadership". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Rpeak – This is the theoretical peak performance of the system. Measured in PFLOPS.
  7. "Sublist Generator". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Top500 - List Statistics - November 2015". Retrieved 17 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Microsoft Windows Azure".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Magic Cube - Dawning 5000A, QC Opteron 1.9 GHz, Infiniband, Windows HPC 2008".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Texas Advanced Computing Center". Texas Advanced Computing Center. University of Texas at Austin.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "List Statistics". Retrieved 3 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Balthasar, Felix. "US Government Funds $425 million to build two new Supercomputers". News Maine. Retrieved 16 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "US nuclear fears block Intel China supercomputer update".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Executive Order -- Creating a National Strategic Computing Initiative (Executive order), The White House - Office of the Press Secretary, 29 July 2015<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "ROADRUNNER - BLADECENTER QS22/LS21 CLUSTER, POWERXCELL 8I 3.2 GHZ / OPTERON DC 1.8 GHZ, VOLTAIRE INFINIBAND". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Cluster Platform DL360e Gen8, Xeon E5-2450 8C 2.100GHz, Gigabit Ethernet". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Thunder - Intel Itanium2 Tiger4 1.4GHz - Quadrics". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Columbia - SGI Altix 1.5/1.6/1.66 GHz, Voltaire Infiniband". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Japan Agency for Marine -Earth Science and Technology". Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links