Every six months, a new list of the top 500 fastest supecomputers in the world comes out, and today was the day. The big news is that we've cracked 10 petaflops, but compared to six months ago, the list itself will probably surprise you.
The surprising news is that nothing has changed. Or rather, plenty has changed, but the top five ranking itself has stayed exactly the same, which hasn't happened since the Top500 list was invented. So what's different, then? Japan's "K Computer" had the #1 spot six months ago at over eight petaflops, but it's increased its speed to an epic ten and a half petaflops. A petaflop, by the way, is a peta's worth of flops, which is 1,000,000,000,000,000 (a quadrillion) flops per second. And while we're on the subject, a flop is a FLoating point OPeration, which is something that computers have to do a lot of when making scientific calculations, which is why flops are used to measure supercomputing speed.
Here are some more interesting stats for you hardcore hardware geeks: the number of supercomputers using GPUs (graphics cards) to boost their processing power has more than doubled, and the vast majority of these systems use NVIDIA chips, as opposed to ATI. More than half of the Top500 systems are using processors of six or more cores, and almost 80% of the processors in the entire list are made by Intel. On average, a supercomputer produces 282 megaflops for every watt of power it consumes, but the fastest supercomputer of all manages to crank out 830 megaflops per watt, making it one of the most efficient systems on the list.
Below, check out a gallery of these top five monster supercomputers.