​Top500 Supercomputers Ranking Proves China’s Dominant Role In Developing World’s Fastest

Top500 Supercomputers Ranking
Author: Michael StevensBy:
Staff Reporter
Jun. 21, 2016

The Top500 supercomputers ranking proves that the China is rapidly developing the world’s fastest technology, and it’s a big statement that the country doesn’t need the help of the United States to dominate its massively powerful computer systems.

China is also challenged and has displaced the US as the country with the most supercomputers in the Top500 ranking of the most powerful computers in the world with 167 systems, passing 165.

Japan was ranked No. 3 with 29 systems, a number that surprised many. But although Chinese computers have topped the ranking before, this year marks the first that the computer that did so was entirely using Chinese chips.

Top500 supercomputers ranking reveals Sunway TaihuLight as the fastest.

Top500 supercomputers ranking reveals Sunway TaihuLight as the fastest.

The Top500 supercomputers ranking last year showed China as the winner as the maintained United States and Germany slipped to No. 2, followed by a computer at the U.S. government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Supercomputers are one of a series of technologies targeted by China’s ruling Communist Party for development and have received heavy financial support. Such systems are used for weather forecasting, designing nuclear weapons, analyzing oilfields and other specialized purposes.

“Considering that just 10 years ago, China claimed a mere 28 systems on the list, with none ranked in the top 30, the nation has come further and faster than any other country in the history of supercomputing,” the Top500 organizers said in a statement.

The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, which is located at the state-funded Chinese Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, a city near Shanghai in eastern China, is more than twice as powerful as previous record-holder Tianhe-2, according to TOP500, a research organization that ranks the powerful computers twice a year.

The TaihuLight is due to be introduced Tuesday at the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt by the director of the Wuxi center, Guangwen Yang.

“As the first No. 1 system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems,” Yang was quoted as saying in the TOP500 statement.

Titan supercomputer

In both the US and China, supercomputers are highly prized for their ability to make complex calculations that are used in nuclear simulations and for civilian scientific research, such as an effort by the US Department of Energy to analyze billions of gigabytes of “big data.”

The room-sized computers use thousands of chips linked together by servers rather than a central processor. But China’s TaihuLight, which has some 41,000 chips that each contain 260 processor cores, also uses a relatively small amount of memory - 1.3 petabytes - which helps improve its energy efficiency.

The US’ fastest supercomputer, by contrast, has a top speed of about 17,590 petaflops, making China’s machine roughly five times as fast. Its Titan supercomputer, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, is being used for a variety of scientific research, including climate modeling, the lab says.

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