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China Again Outranks US Supercomputers in TOP500 List

China Again Outranks US Supercomputers in TOP500 List
Chinese supercomputer (AP)

Richard Grigonis By Monday, 26 June 2017 12:31 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Two supercomputers designed and manufactured in China are the world’s fastest and second-fastest machines, according to the 49th edition of the biannual TOP500, the authoritative listing of Earth’s most powerful computing systems.

And for the first time since 1996 and only the second time in this century, the U.S. doesn't own a single one of the world’s top-three computers, but it has five out of the top 10 — more than any other nation — and is home to 169 of the world’s fastest 500 machines. (China has 160.)

The TOP500 ranking is based on the industry-standard "Linpack" computing power benchmarks and is updated every June and November by researchers in the U.S. and Germany. The latest one reveals that, for the second year running, the world’s fastest supercomputer is the Sunway TaihuLight, housed at the National Super Computing Center (NSCC) in Wuxi in Guangzhou Province, China.

Sunway TaihuLight is described by the list as "far and away the most powerful number-cruncher on the planet." With its more than 10 million cores that consume 15,000 kilowatts of electricity, Sunway TaihuLight can perform an astounding 93 quadrillion calculations per second — or 93 “petaflops” — and is almost three times faster than the runner-up, Tianhe-2 (“Milky Way-2”), which clocks in with a score of 33.9 petaflops. Sunway TaihuLight achieved its lead last June, when it deposed Tianhe-2, the former titleholder for the previous three consecutive years, according to the Xinhua news agency. Both machines were developed by the NSCC.

This news means that a Chinese supercomputer has held the top computing spot in the rankings nine times in a row.

"It highlights China's ability to conduct independent research in the supercomputing field," Haohuan Fu, deputy director of the National Supercomputing Center told the Xinhua news agency.Fu added that the rapid development of "homegrown hardware" supported by "homegrown software" will strengthen China’s research and engineering test capacity in many fields and that this activity will promote an "industrial upgrading and, eventually, a sustainable development of China's homegrown supercomputing industry."

Sunway TaihuLight uses homegrown processors to achieve its record speed; Tianhe-2 is powered with processing chips from Intel chips.

Taking the third spot is a newly upgraded device called Piz Daint, which resides at the Swiss National Supercomputing Center, situated since 2012 in Lugano-Cornaredo. The addition of Nvidia Tesla P100 Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) doubled the machine’s computing performance, giving it a new benchmark of 19.6 petaflops.

Fu called the improved Swiss machine "really a surprise" and that "it reflects the increased investment in large-scale supercomputers in Europe."

Unfortunately, for America, the upgraded Piz Dain pushes into the fourth place the Department of Energy’s Titan supercomputer, a Cray XK7 machine housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Titan, which has been running since 2012, can perform 17.6 petaflops, which makes it just a fifth as fast as Sunway TaihuLight.

The rest of the TOP500 supercomputer list is as follows:

5. Sequoia: 17.2 petaflops (IBM Bluegene).

6. Cori: 14 petaflops (Cray XC40).

7. Oakforest-PACS: 13.6 petaflops (Fujitsu).

8. Fujitsu: K 10.5 petaflops (Fujitsu).

9. Mira: 8.6 petaflops (IBM Bluegene).

10. Trinity: 8.1 petaflops (Cray XC40).

As America continues declines as a supercomputing leader, Japan is stepping up to the plate to challenge China’s dominance. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans spend $173 million on a new supercomputer called ABCI or AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure. TheJapanesehope it can score 130 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, seizing first place on the TOP500 list.

Japan was responsible for America’s previous dethronement from the top of the TOP500 list back in November of 1996, when three Japanese supercomputers captured the top three positions.

A report, commissioned in 2016 by the Japanese national science agency Riken, projects that U.S. R&D spending and itssupercomputer talent pool will shrink, while Europe will accelerate development with increased funding, and China will make great efforts to become the new global computing leader, despite their relatively small user and industry base needing the kind of raw computing power afforded by the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

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Two supercomputers designed and manufactured in China are the world's fastest and second-fastest machines, according to the 49th Edition of the biannual TOP500, the authoritative listing of Earth's most powerful computing systems.
china, outranks, us, supercomputer, top500
Monday, 26 June 2017 12:31 AM
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