Five of the world’s top 500 supercomputers are based on Apple Xserve systems

The Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers shows that five of the world’s top 500 supercomputers are still based on Apple Xserve systems.

“In twenty-first place is Colsa’s Mach 5, down from 15th position in last November’s list. Virginia Tech’s System X, is now in 28th place, down from 20th six months ago, and 14th position last June,” Macworld UK reports.

“The University of Illinois’ Turing system is in 114th place (from 85), the University of California’s Dawson features in position 462 (down from 303) and Bowie State University’s Xseed is ranked 468 (304),” Macworld UK reports.

Macworld UK reports, “A total of 301 systems are now using Intel processors. The second most commonly used processors are the IBM Power processors (84 systems), just ahead of AMD Opteron processors (81).”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Too Hot!” for the heads up.]

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Virginia Tech’s ‘System X’ Apple Mac supercomputer places seventh in Top500 list – November 08, 2004
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  1. You know, if you browse through the 1st 50 or 100 in the list and for each system you divide the peak GFlops by the number of processors (or cores), you’ll find the G5 leaves all but the most exotic chips (like the new Cray) in the dust. The Pentiums, Xeons, Itaniums, and the AMD chips just don’t match up to a G5 even with some of them running a GHz faster than the G5s. Not to mention the power they draw.

  2. Reality Check:

    While you are right, the point is that the now out-dated and soon-to-be-upgraded Xserves can still hold their own among the top computers. I think that deserves recognition. It would seem to me that new 64bit dual or quad core Intel-Xserves could increase Apple’s cut of the top 500 once they come out.

  3. I agree with Too Hot! However, here’s another thought. If there are a bunch of boxes tied together, using Intel chips and using practically all non-proprientary parts, and not running OS X, are they really (or still) Apple computers? I think Indy cars either use, or used to use, “Oldsmobile” engines, but I don’t think anyone would mistake an indy car for an Olds 98.

  4. The sad thing is, IBM willfully chose to abandon PowerPC because it thought jumping into bed with console companies was the right way to go. Given that decision, Apple made the right choice by dumping IBM and going Intel.

    Still, it’s a bittersweet when you reflect on just what the PowerPC was capable of, had IBM the balls to continue advancing the architecture. Instead, I think there decision to focus only on chips for consoles will bite them in the ass.

    That is, there’s a reason why they’re called consoles – they hardly every get see hardware updates! So all that development work that IBM did for Microsoft and Sony? Well, now that Xbox 360 is out on the shelves, and the work on the Cell mostly done, it will be another 5-7 years before IBM will be asked for new chips. From now until then, it will be Microsoft and Sony screaming, “We want another 1MM units, but cheaper!” So much for the rationale that going “all console” would be a boon for IBM’s chip develoment.

    Thus, the PowerPC goes out with soft whine and whimper.

  5. c’mon guys… leave poor Reality Check alone. he hasn’t much to grouse about lately what with Intel processor equiped Macs getting so much good press from the tech reviewers and press then the Boot Camp/Parallels options and then all the woes and bad press coming out of Redmond.

    he cant bemoan clock speeds, lack of apps, compatability, flexability… he ain’t got much else to start flame wars with. so… he goes after the ultra high-end research sector and attempts to bait people there. thing is, most of those ultra high-end systems aren’t Windows systems, and that’s what matters. there isnt a reputable serious research lab that will use Windows as an OS. the ones that do you can bet that they spend just as much time keeping the system running as they do performing research.

    so just ignore RC. he’s really good at baiting people into an arguement. he’s a master at it… yea… you’ve guessed it….

    he’s a MASTER BAITER.

  6. The significant thing is that Apple has 5, and 3 of those are in the top 30 … and these are yesterday’s Mac processors. It wasn’t too long ago that Apple had zip, nada, zero. Hopefully the new Intel-based Xserves will give Apple a boost in this sector.

  7. Intel has a Quad core Kensfield processor that performs better than a dual dual-core G5 2.5 Ghz.

    The only reason Apple has X-Servers in the supercomputing list is because nobody else had the (at the time) kick butt IBM G5 processor. Enterprise customers wanted the G5 processor and the Mac was the case it came in. None of them use Mac OS X server as it’s really not good or fast or customizable. Like Linux is for example.

    Unless Apple adopts the Cell+ processor and nobody else does, we won’t see another Mac in the Supercomputing list again.

    There are tons of vendors waiting to make Intel processor based servers for supercomputers, much cheaper than Apple or below cost just to get their name in the list.

  8. “In other words, 99% of the world’s supercomputer designers chose not to bother with Apple hardware”

    That’s right, all have dropped significantly in rankings and given the Intel switch these will probably be the LAST Apple based supercomputers ever built.

  9. Supercomputers are build based upon price for performance and low cooling costs of processors.

    The G5 processor was really advanced at the time and only Apple had it in a configuration that made it easy to make a supercluster/computer out of.

    No serious supercomputing effort even considers Mac OS X server.

    If the G5 processor came only in a Dell box, then Dells would have a bunch of supercomputers made of them.

    Microsoft Windows wouldn’t be run on those supercomputers either by the way.

    Since Apple is a hardware company first and the OS is the paint job. I wouldn’t be surprised if some adoption of the Cell+ processor worked it’s way into some professional product line at Apple so they can sell these fantasic processors and unload some major hardware once again.

    Heck one customer bought what 1200 PowerMac G5s? Another bought 600 PowerMac’s?

    All the X-Servers that went into several supecomputers?

    If Apple sticks to Intel in the Mac Pro line, then they will be just like everyone else. There will be no hardware draw to buy Mac’s anymore.

    People who need one or two Mac Pro’s buy them and then you don’t hear from them for several years mostly. Lot’s of G3’s running OS 9 still going out there still.

    I think we are going to see a Quad Cell+ Mac Pro, no video card needed. Hehehehe. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  10. Channel Z – The only reason Apple has X-Servers in the supercomputing list is because nobody else had the (at the time) kick butt IBM G5 processor. Enterprise customers wanted the G5 processor and the Mac was the case it came in. None of them use Mac OS X server as it’s really not good or fast or customizable. Like Linux is for example. . . No serious supercomputing effort even considers Mac OS X server.<blockquote>

    Not quite…

    Ingredients for a [Virginia Tech’s System X] Supercomputer


    1,100 dual 2.3GHz Xserve G5 servers
    6 Xserve RAIDs
    Primary interconnect: InfiniBand communications fabric over Mellanox host channel adapters and switches
    Secondary interconnect: Gigabit Ethernet over Cisco switches
    Custom-designed racks and cooling system from Liebert Corporation


    Mac OS X Server
    Déjà Vu fault-tolerant checkpoint/restart and migration software

    Administration Tools
    Mac OS X Server administration tools



  11. Beyond the fact that Reality Check is absolutely right in pointing out the G5/970’s superior performance per clock & lower power requirements, there’s another very big reason why Apple’s XServe cracked this list – they were cheaper than the alternatives. for Virginia Tech and the US Army in particular, the latter was a crucial aspect of why they didn’t go with either IBM’s 970 solutions or x86 versions.

    However, think about where we are now. Every Macintel Apple makes is at least 10% more expensive than the equivilent found in Windows world, and that pricing disadvantage will hold for XServes too. All the software & reliability advantages that often levels that disadvantage in the consumer space is of absolutely no consequence when it comes to institutional computing clusters, as they use different specialized software. There certainly can’t be any actual hardware performance advantage by going with Apple now either (as was clearly the case with the G5 – evidenced by these older XServes continuing to remain in the Top 50), since the hardware is exactly the same.

    So unless Apple does some major sacrificing on the profit margins for these machines, I wouldn’t expect to see Apple on this list with there new Macintel XServes. If they continue to sell them at all, it will be to small scale businesses that need a server to interface seemlessly with Apple’s pro workstations. But the supercomuter glory days of ‘Upstart Apple’ are probably gone.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cool smile” style=”border:0;” />

    MDN magic word = “function”

    In this case, form not following economic function is whats going to keep Apple out of the game.

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