10Gig Ethernet specialist Force10 Networks has claimed that its switch/routers are now integral to more than a dozen of the world's top 40 supercomputers. They include the US Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roadrunner, which currently ranks as the world's most powerful supercomputer and was the first to reach a peak performance of 1 Petaflop.

Force10 added that its networking hardware is also a common thread that links the fastest Cray, Dell, IBM and Sun-based machines on the Top500 ranking of supercomputers with the fastest systems in Germany, Korea, Russia and the US.

The report highlights the critical importance of always-on networking technology in supercomputer work, both in labs and in commercial applications, said Sachi Sambandan, the company's VP of engineering.

"As supercomputers grow more powerful, it is increasingly important to minimise potential bottlenecks," he said. "Force10 products are designed to deliver reliability without compromising throughput - that's essential for supercomputers like Roadrunner that are reaching Petaflop performance levels."

"If you have a powerful supercomputer, you also need to connect it to the outside world," agreed Klaus Wolkersdorfer, head of the high-performance computing department at Germany's Forschungszentrum Jülich, whose quarter-Petaflop Jugene system is ranked the sixth fastest in the world.

Jugene comprises 16 IBM BlueGene/P racks with a total of 65,536 processors and 152 I/O nodes. These are connected to each other, and to the research facility's networks and other supercomputers, by a Force10 TeraScale E1200 switch.

"We needed over 200 10Gigabit ports, and only the Force10 system was capable of this," added Wolkersdorfer.

Force10 said that alongside Los Alamos and Forschungszentrum Jülich, its supercomputing users include:

  • Moscow State University, which is home to Russia's leading supercomputer, SKIF-GRID. It uses the Force10 C300 resilient switch, as well as the company's S50 and S2410 switches;
  • The Tachyon supercomputer at the KISTI Supercomputing Centre in Korea;
  • The Texas Advanced Computing Centre's Sun-based Ranger;
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, with its Cray supercomputer called Jaguar; and
  • Abe, at the US National Centre for Supercomputing Applications, which is number 23 on the list and is the most powerful Dell supercomputer.