top500 list (was: opteron VS Itanium 2)

Dean Johnson dtj at
Mon Nov 17 10:28:10 EST 2003

On Mon, 2003-11-17 at 08:33, Mark Hahn wrote:
> > Sorry Greg, top500 list came out and you lost!
> sigh.  Apple bought a benchmark.  does this make Apple products better?

Virginia bought a benchmark, not Apple. According to the reports, he
paid list for them. Course he got extra goodies as a result of buying so
many, but I suspect that behavior would occur with any vendor.

BTW, Yes they are pretty damned good. Running them head to head against
other machines, even without benchmarking heroics, they stand up quite
well. One Amber benchmark that a colleague ran showed that a 2Ghz G5 was
nearly twice as fast as a 2.8Ghz Xeon. Thats one datapoint, but other
testing has shown that it continues to do pretty well. We can't do real
apple-to-apples comparisons, no pun intended, because we only have
gigabit on the G5's and things like Amber and Gromacs seem to run into
that pretty quickly.

> > BigMac G5 (aka "X")         (2200 CPUs) - 10.3 TFlops
> OK, so we already know that their pricing disclosures are ah,
> "optimistic".  (nodes probably cost >6k apiece, not half that)
> and their yield is around 59%.  not to mention the little bit 
> of missing ECC...

I'm sure that the infiniband figures into the discrepancy a bit. $3k is
roughly the list for a stock box.

> actually, I'd love to know what their yield is if they had only
> 4GB per node - almost certainly lower.
> > Lightning (LANL Opteron)    (2816 CPUs) -  8.1 TFlops
> yield is 72%.
> > Apple BigMac is number 3, while the Opteron cluster is
> > number 6.
> for the billionth time: rmax is just a matter of how much money
> you have.  rmax/rpeak is the only part of top500 that matters.

Perhaps for shallow people who put stock in such lists. What really
matters is how much of that peak can be applied to actual
computationally intense problems that the owner considers needing
solved. It doesn't matter how fast the Ferrari can go, as the speed
limit is still only 70.

> I'd like very much to know the actual prices and discounts for Big Mac.
> it's a shame this isn't required for Top500...

Does Virginia have to include the 600-700 pizzas that they bought for
the volunteers during the construction phase. ;-)

Perhaps they should also have something like watts per gigaflop, or
cubic feet occupied per gigaflop.



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