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There's a New Test in Town for Ranking Supercomputers

By Machine Design

May 2, 2018

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Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have devised a new benchmark, called the High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG), for rating the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers.

For several years, experts have been saying the previous benchmark, the High-Performance LINPACK program, was not effective. LINPACK “performs compute-rich algorithms on dense data structures to identify the theoretical maximum speed of a supercomputer,” but newer applications often use sparse data structures, says Sandia researcher Mike Heroux.

As a way to better assess current supercomputing application programs, Heroux developed HPCG's preconditioned iterative method for solving systems.

"A preconditioner makes the iterative method converge more quickly, so a multigrid preconditioner is applied to the method at each iteration," says Heroux.

On the HPCG TOP500 list, the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory supercomputer Trinity has risen to the third spot, behind only Japan’s K Computer and China’s Tianhe-2 (in the LINPACK ranking, Trinity ranks seventh).

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