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Why InfiniBand rules the roost in the TOP500

In this special guest feature, Bill Lee from the InfiniBand Trade Association writes that the new TOP500 list has a lot to say about how interconnects matter for the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

Bill Lee from ITBA

The 52nd edition of the TOP500 List, a ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers, was released this past November. Once again, the List highlights that InfiniBand is the top choice for the most powerful and advanced supercomputers in the world, including the reigning #1 system – Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Summit. The TOP500 List results not only report that InfiniBand accelerates the top three supercomputers in the world but is also the most used high-speed interconnect for the TOP500 systems.

According to the TOP500 List, InfiniBand powers 135 supercomputers in the HPC group, which represents nearly 55% of the category. As the TOP500 continues to advance, the number of cloud and hyperscale (non-HPC) platforms represented in the list continues to grow as well. Nearly half of the platforms on the TOP500 List can be categorized as non-HPC application platforms, which are mostly Ethernet-based. For 25G or faster Ethernet systems, the List includes 130 that are RoCE-enabled, or 51% of total Ethernet systems.

The ORNL Summit system has topped the TOP500 List for the second time, and the supercomputer is quickly making its mark on the scientific community at large after only being in operation since early summer. This past September, five of the six finalists announced for the prestigious 2018 Gordon Bell Prize used Summit computing capabilities to support their work. Summit’s architecture leverages InfiniBand technology to accommodate traditional simulation workloads as well as mixed-precision workloads associated with AI and data analytics, making it the world’s fastest HPC and AI supercomputer.

The TOP500 List once again solidifies InfiniBand as an essential component for the fastest and most powerful HPC systems and highlights the growing importance of RoCE-capable non-HPC platforms. To view the full list of sites and systems, visit www.TOP500.org.

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