What is the most powerful supercomputer in Ireland?

23 Jun 2017

Image: Timofeev Vladimir/Shutterstock

Six of the seven most powerful computers in Ireland are owned by one company, with new entries on the list more than doubling the country’s HPC capacity.

Investment in high-performance computers (HPCs) in Ireland is continuing apace, with two new machines in recent months storming into the worldwide top 200.

Known only as ‘Company M’, a software company, rather than research centre, has seen its latest toys enter the global ranking of supercomputers at 196 and 197, respectively.

Future Human


These supercomputers represent the second- and third-highest positions ever recorded by Irish computers on the global Top500 list – they are both a Linpack Rmax of 819.16 teraflops.

In 2008, a Xeon quad core machine operated by the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) reached 117th on the list, falling out of the top 100 within two years.

ICHEC still has one of Ireland’s most powerful machines, though, with Fionn the only computer outside of Company M’s array that makes it into the top seven domestically (sixth).

This more than doubles the Irish HPC capacity, which is up from 1.46 petaflops in November 2016, to 3.01 petaflops today.

Ireland has ranked on the Top500 list 29 times over a history of 23 years, with a total of 18 machines. More than half of these machines (11) and rankings (18) have been in the last six years, representing Ireland’s increasing pace of HPC investment.

“The continued growth of the Irish Supercomputer List reflects an exciting period of high-performance computing expansion,” said Dr Brett Becker of the School of Computer Science, University College Dublin.

“With emerging technologies in data analytics, AI and machine learning driving the proliferation of high-performance computing globally, it is important that Ireland continues to invest in high-performance computing,” said Becker, who also maintains the Irish Supercomputer List.

Participating as close to the top of the overall global computing list is important, he said, “in order to remain globally competitive in today’s emerging technologies that promise to drive the future economy and to improve the quality of people’s lives”.

Ireland’s history in the global Top500 supercomputer ranking. Click to enlarge. Image: Irish Supercomputer List

Ireland’s history in the global Top500 supercomputer ranking. Click to enlarge. Image: Irish Supercomputer List

Two Chinese supercomputers and an upgraded supercomputer in Switzerland rank ahead of the US now in the overall global list, released earlier this week.

China last year revealed the most powerful machine in the world, the Sunway TaihuLight, with 93 petaflops of processing power. It is this machine that still reigns supreme.

Now, the supercomputer arms race is heating up once again, with news that the US Department of Energy is pumping $258m into research in this field across six American tech companies: IBM, Intel, HP Enterprise, Nvidia, Cray and AMD.

The purpose of the PathForward programme, the department said, is to maximise the energy efficiency and overall performance of future large-scale supercomputers.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic