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Virginia Tech's Green500 expands its coverage of energy-efficient supercomputers


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 12, 2009 – Virginia Tech's Green500 list is getting a refresh. Since its 2007 debut, the Green500 has ranked only the energy efficiency of the world’s 500 fastest performing supercomputers. Now, the Green500 is expanding the definition of a supercomputer to include a wider spectrum of the high-end computing world with the 'Little Green500' list and opening its doors to innovation with two new exploratory lists: the 'Open Green500' and 'HPCC Green500.'

The primary TOP Green500 list, will continue to rank the top 500 supercomputers in the world by energy efficiency, as published by the TOP500. The focus of performance-at-any-cost computer operations has led to the emergence of supercomputers that consume vast amounts of electrical power and produce so much heat that large cooling facilities must be constructed to ensure proper performance. To address this trend, the TOP Green500 list puts a premium on energy-efficient performance for sustainable supercomputing.

“While institutions may require more and more supercomputing resources each year, we cannot afford to continue building new power stations to support such resources,” said Green500 co-founder Wu Feng, an associate professor with the Virginia Tech College of Engineering computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments. “We need to be more efficient at all scales of supercomputing.”

The more-inclusive ‘Little Green500’ list will broaden the definition of a supercomputer to include any machine used for commodity supercomputing that could have made the TOP500 within the past 18 months.

Two new exploratory lists also are now open for submissions. The Open Green500 will allow supercomputers to use a combination of single-precision and double-precision to generate a correct double-precision result for LINPACK. “We hope that this will stimulate innovation by allowing hardware manufacturers to explore novel architectural solutions while numerical analysts compose novel algorithms to perhaps create a synergistic multi-grid method for LINPACK,” Feng said. Similarly, the second exploratory list will use the High Performance Computing Challenge (HPCC) benchmark for its performance results.

“These new lists are in response to community feedback from the supercomputing community,” said Kirk W. Cameron, Green500 list co-founder and associate professor of computer science at Virginia Tech.”With funding from the National Science Foundation, we have researched and implemented techniques to broaden participation in an effort to encourage energy efficiency across the industry.”

The Green500 serves a complement to the TOP500, providing a foundation for tracking trends in green supercomputing. As with the TOP500, the Green500 issues two releases per year.

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