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By Judith N. Mottl

June 11, 2002 | To get a feeling for just how effectively Linux is infiltrating the clustering industry, visit the Top500 Web site — — which tracks data on HPC clusters. Longtime iron box leaders top the list. IBM dominates the field with 200 systems — mostly RS/6000 SP-based systems. Sun is in second place with 81 systems, and SGI is third with 63 systems. Linux has broken into the Top 100 sector.

Last year's Nos. 30 and 31 on the list were Linux clusters: One implementation featured 1,024 Intel Pentium II processors running at 1GHz. It achieved a peak performance of 594 gigaflops.

No. 42 on the list was a cluster at the Sandia National Laboratory that contains 1,000 processors and has peaked at 512.4 gigaflops. And it's likely that one of the next big cluster efforts will land in one of the top three spots, as Linux NetworX and SGI Federal (a subsidiary of SGI) are teaming up to build three clusters for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Given continuing efforts — enhanced Linux kernel capabilities, 64-bit processors, and last year's agreement between Compaq and Intel to add proven HPC capabilities to the Itanium processor family — Linux' ability to crack the Top 10 list continues to gain momentum.

—Judith N. Mottl

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