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2 U.S. Dominance of the World Wide HPC Market

The TOP500 continues to demonstrate the dominant position the U.S. assumes in the world both as producer and as consumer of high performance computers. In Table 2 the total number of installed systems in the major world regions is given with respect to the origin of the computers.

If one considers in Table 2 the country of origin then it is striking that 423 out of the TOP500 systems are produced in the U.S., which amounts to 85% of all installed systems. Japan accounts for 12% of the systems, and Europe produces only 3%. The extent of the American dominance of the market is quite surprising, and has been even increasing from the previous report, when the U.S. share was 84%. For years, in particular in the mid 80's, there were ominous and ubiquitous warnings that the American supercomputer industry (which was essentially Cray Research at that time) is highly vulnerable to an ``attack" by the Japanese vertically integrated computer giants Fujitsu, NEC, and Hitachi. Obviously this has not happened. How much various efforts such as the NSF Supercomputing Initiative in the mid 80's, or more recently the HPCC Program have contributed to the current vast superiority of the U.S. high performance computing industry, remains to be investigated. It is interesting to note that one view expressed outside the U.S. [13] is that strengthening the U.S. HPC industry and easing the transition to MPP was the only rationale for the HPCC Program.

The numbers for Europe are actually better than last year (15 machines in Nov. 95 versus 12 machines in June '95). This situation is probably not going to change, since one of the remaining two European vendors (Parsytec) will no longer focus on the HPC market. With lack of immediate access to the newest hardware, and the absence of the close interaction of users with vendors as is prevalent in the U.S., the best the European High Performance Computing and Networking Initiative can accomplish is maintaining the status quo of Europe as a distant third in high performance computing technologies.


Systems Systems Installed InTotal
Manufactured In U.S. Japan Europe Other
U.S. 262 27 116 18 423
Japan 5 45 11 1 62
Europe 2 1 12 0 15
Total 269 73 139 19 500
Table 2:   US Share of Total Number of Installed TOP500 Systems

Table 3 is analogous to Table 2, but instead of the number of systems, the aggregate performance in Rmax-Gflop/s is listed. Table 3 demonstrates a truly astounding event in 1995: within six months the total number of installed Gflop/s in the U.S. increased from 1392 Gflop/s in June to 2660 Gflop/s in November 1995. This is an increase of 92% in only six months. At the same time growth in other regions was substantial but not quite as high: from 709 Gflop/s to 1234 Gflop/s or 74% in Japan, and from 457 Gflop/s to 801 Gflop/s or 75% in Europe. What is more astounding is that this growth did not happen by installing a few very large machines. Instead a large number of machines were installed, which now occupy medium to lower ranks on the TOP500 list. One conclusion from this data is that the HPCC initiative in the U.S. has succeeded in the sense that the infrastructure for HPC is dramatically changing. A large number of institutions now has access to Gflop/s level computing for machines which cost not much more than $ 1M. Only five years ago this compute power was accessible only to the elite few institutions being able to spend tens of millions of dollars. We can anticipate exciting times for HPC: more and more people in the U.S. will have access to inexpensive computational modeling tools. It will be worthwhile to examine what this revolution will do to economic productivity measures such as the GDP in the U.S.


Systems Systems Installed InTotal
Manufactured In U.S. Japan Europe Other
U.S. 2581 198 675 88 3542
Japan 69 1030 72 3 1174
Europe 10 5 55 0 70
Total 2660 1234 801 91 4786
Table 3:   US Share of Total Rmax (in Gflop/s) of Installed TOP500 Systems.

In an international comparison one should however also consider the relative size of countries and their economies. Here we present a new TOP500 set of statistics. In Table 4 we list the a measure of the supercomputer density by ranking the top ten countries with the highest number of supercomputer per capita. Population date are from the ``Interactive 3D Atlas" and date from 1992.


Country Population Number of Population (in thousands)
(in thousands) TOP500 entries per Supercomputer
Switzerland 6,813 9 757
Singapore 2,769 3 923
USA 255,200 261 978
Denmark 5,158 4 1290
Norway 4,288 3 1429
Finland 5,008 3 1669
Germany 80,250 48 1672
Netherlands 15,160 9 1684
Japan 124,500 73 1705
Hong Kong 5,800 3 1933
Sweden 8,652 4 2163
France 57,180 25 2287
Austria 7,776 3 2592
UK 57,700 17 3394
Canada 27,370 8 3421
Table 4:   Population (in thousands) per TOP500 supercomputer.

Table 4 shows that on an international comparison most industrialized countries are providing about one supercomputer per 1 - 2.5 million inhabitants. The number of US installations is no longer that dramatically different from the rest of industrialized countries. It should be mentioned that the among the major industrialized nations the big anomaly with respect to supercomputing usage is Italy. In Italy there is only one supercomputer per 9.6 million inhabitants, far below the number of all other western European countries.

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Next: 3 Market Penetration by Up: No Title Previous: 1 Introduction
Tue May 28 14:38:25 PST 1996