How many users are there in a supercomputer

Total dominance: The top 500 supercomputers run on Linux

Depending on which statistics are consulted, the free Linux operating system has a market share of around one to two percent on desktop computers. In other words: The often proclaimed "Year of the Linux Desktop" should not come anytime soon in reality. Microsoft's Windows remains the top dog, followed by Apple's macOS with some respect. The implementation of a Linux subsystem in Windows and the wishful thinking of an open source expert should also leave this ranking untouched.

In other areas, Linux is all the more relevant. There are mobile devices (Android), servers and supercomputers. In the latter segment there is even a dominance that even makes Windows' desktop market share look old. All of the 500 most powerful supercomputers run with the open source operating system. And not for the first time.

Windows and macOS practically died out

As It's FOSS documents, it is already the third year in a row that Linux is the system of choice for the world's fastest computers. Of course, the development has emerged. While most of the top computers that are now used for working with climate models or researching drugs ran with Unix until the early 2000s, Linux has held the clear majority since 2004. About ten years ago, it cracked the 90 percent threshold and has since then continuously replaced the remaining systems, as newer supercomputers that were put into operation were equipped with Linux.

Other systems could hardly establish themselves on these computers, which today consist of clusters of countless CPUs and graphics cards. Occasionally there were supercomputers with Windows, macOS (e.g. System X from Virginia University of Technology) or several operating systems, but these have now practically died out.

One reason for this development is the open source of Linux. The system can be adapted by those responsible to the given requirements. And if an error or bug appears, it can be fixed without having to rely on the help of Microsoft or Apple due to the incomprehensible code.

For the first time, ARM supercomputers up front

According to the current top 500 list from last June, the fastest supercomputer is currently in Japan. It's "Fugaku" at the Riken Center for Computational Science. It is the first computer with ARM-based processors that could take the lead. Its almost 7.3 million computing cores create a peak computing power of almost 514,000 teraflops per second.

Behind him are "Summit" at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and "Sierra" at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, both in the USA. The currently fastest supercomputer in Europe is the "HPC5" from the Italian energy company Eni. Its peak performance is around 52,000 teraflops per second. (gpi, October 4, 2020)