Linux is Everywhere - Supercomputers to Mobile Phones

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 25, 2014

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, writing for ZDNet, once again reminds us that Linux dominates supercomputers. SJVN linked to the latest Top500 group results, showing Linux makes up for 97% of the five hundred fastest computers in the world. This is the biggest of the big iron, the top supercomputer has 1,024,000 GB of RAM and 3,120,000 Intel Xeon cores, running Kylin Linux.

With Linux being the clear OS of choice among the hot rod builders, where does proprietary Unix fit into the picture? Increasingly, the answer appears to be that it doesn't.

Of the remaining 16, 13 run Unix. They appear to be running IBM AIX since they're all running on IBM Power processors. The fastest of these boxes, the United Kingdom's weather predicting system, ECMWF, ranked 60th in the world.

I've written before about how proprietary Unix has had its day, and is now on the decline. IBM has seen the writing on the wall, and is now investing its money in Linux development. AIX is more difficult to administer, and has an install base exponentially smaller than Linux.

The importance of Linux being the primary operating system on the hot rods of the computing industry is that Linux benefits from the performance tuning from groups all over the world that are interested in eking out every last drop of performance from their machines. Neither AIX, Solaris, or HP-UX are represented at large scale here because they are either expensive, difficult to work with, slow, or all of the above.

There are parallels to be made here between the biggest computers, and the smallest. Both platforms need to be able to perform as fast as possible, albeit for different reasons. Supercomputers are dedicated to solving big problems, while mobile devices are resource constrained. Mobile devices need to be quick and responsive to be viable in the market, supercomputers need to be able to crunch as much data as possible in as short an amount of time as possible, and no matter what, it is never fast enough.

That a single operating system is the beneficiary of the work from both sides of the spectrum means that there will continue to be good things in the future for Linux. It also means that the job market for Linux administration and development skills will continue to grow. No matter how it is looked at, now is a great time to be part of the Linux community.