The Big Names of Supercomputing Remain Unbeatable

Do you worry that newfangled technologies are making the traditional giants of high-speed computing obsolete? One look at the newly updated list of the top 500 supercomputers should calm your nerves.

The long-rumored invasion of ARM chips in the data center is still not happening. Intel chips power eight of the top 10 systems this time, and 403 of the top 500. That dominant 80% share is up from 76% six months ago. Second-place contender Advanced Micro Devices lost the top spot to a brand-new Intel-powered supercomputer from China, lost 2% of its top 500 share, and only accounts for 10% of the top systems. And again, there's not an ARM system to be seen.

Score one big win for Dow component Intel. The microchip titan always rules this list with an iron fist, but its steely grip just tightened a little bit harder.

And the parade of Dow-based winners continues. IBM is a minor player in the processor race with just an 8.2% share of the top 500 performers. But it's still the leading systems-builder, having assembled 32% of the big list and half of the top 10. Hewlett-Packard pulled out a surprise win by leaping to a 38% share of the 500-system list, gaining 9% since the previous update and leapfrogging IBM. HP didn't land any design wins in the top 10.

This list provides plenty of reason to believe in a future for these traditional computing powerhouses. Even in the age of ubiquitous ARM chips and mobile computing, nothing beats a good old stack of high-powered Intel Xeon processors in an HP or IBM rack when it comes to tackling the really tough number-crunching problems.

The consumer-level IT world is changing fast, but the "big iron" isn't going away.

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