The TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers has been driving force in high performance computing since 1993. With the next list coming out in just a few weeks, I caught up with IDC’s Steve Conway, an old friend who has been watching the semi-annual list since the very beginning.
“I was working for Cray Research at a time when Cray dominated the Top500 list, so little “spin” was needed. We did have to remind people, though, that sustained performance on real-world applications is the ultimate measure of supercomputer performance. The world’s most powerful systems for running automotive and aerospace codes often didn’t make it onto the Top500 list at all, for example, and that caused some problems for those data center managers with their bosses. They questioned why they paid millions of dollars for a high-end supercomputer that didn’t even make the list. This sometimes made it more difficult to get funding for the next supercomputer.