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HPC User Site Census: Systems

by Addison Snell, Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Laura Segervall
for Intersect360 Research
September 2009

Intersect360 Research conducted its second annual Site Census survey of the High Performance Computing user community. This first report from the 2009 survey series provides a detailed examination of the server systems installed at a sample of HPC user sites. We surveyed users on their systems’ suppliers, architectures, node counts, operating systems, interconnects, memory usage, processor types, and storage. We additionally surveyed users on their server storage systems, networks, middleware, and software, which will be covered in future reports to be released in this series.

Our goal in this report is to discover system-level trends within the HPC user communities by examining supplier penetration, architecture trends, and node configurations.

Key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • IBM, Dell, and HP were the top named vendors at all sites in our database. In-house systems (systems configured by internal staff, integrators, or contractors) appeared at 20.3% of sites, exceeding the share of any individual vendor. In-house systems ranked third in share of nodes at 15.3% when excluding outliers. In-house system components may have been purchased from one or more of the major vendors.
  • The average node count among surveyed sites in the 2009 survey is about 120, much lower than the 200 average node count found in sites surveyed in 2008. About 70% of all systems installed are cluster or blade systems, and over 80% of the systems surveyed are message-passing, distributed-memory systems. Clusters average more nodes and more memory per node than blades.
  • Two-way nodes dominate the installed base of surveyed sites. All blade systems had two processors per node, while 91% of clusters have four processors per node or less.
  • Multi-core processors represent the majority of systems shipped since 2006. Single-core processors still hold 43% share of the all systems installed. We anticipate within two years dual-and quad-core processors will represent the largest share of systems installed.


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