RENCI hits Top 500 list

CHAPEL HILL – The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) scored its first ranking on the Top 500 supercomputers list with Ocracoke, its new IBM Blue Gene/L system.

Ocracoke, with 1,024 dual processor compute nodes, 1 gigabyte of memory per node and a peak performance of 5.7 teraflops, or trillions of calculations per second, was ranked 104th on the list. The system was installed in April and will be used for creating complex models and simulations and for analyzing and managing massive data sets.

In additon, Topsail, the Dell research computing cluster operated by Information Technology Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was ranked 74th on the Top 500 list. The Topsail cluster’s computational capability of 6.252 teraflops is greater than the sum of the computational capabilities of all other Information Technology Services’ research computing systems.

The Top500 project, which began in 1993, tracks and detects trends in high-performance computing.  Twice a year in June and November, a list of the world’s most powerful computers is compiled and released.

“This caliber of computing resources is essential to make breakthrough research possible and to build Carolina’s reputation as a research powerhouse in both academia and industry.” said Dan Reed, director of RENCI and vice chancellor for information technology at UNC-Chapel Hill.  “With our entry onto the Top 500 list, we are showing our commitment to providing a world-class research environment.”

“Topsail has taken us to the next level of high performance computing,” added Ruth Marinshaw, UNC-Chapel Hill’s acting assistant vice chancellor for research computing.  “It allows researchers to solve ‘big science’ problems that require very large amounts of computing capability.”

The Top500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee. The best performance on the Linpack benchmark is used as a performance measure for ranking the computer systems.  To view the list, visit