The Top500 supercomputer rankings now put China ahead of the U.S. both in the number of systems and in performance, officials announced on Monday at the 2016 International Supercomputer Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.
China had 167 computer systems listed in the rankings, compared to 165 systems from the United States, according to a Top500 statement
. China also leads in the performance category on the strength of having No. 1 and No. 2 ranked systems – the Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2.
The New York Times
said U.S. computing experts and business executives have stated in the past that supercomputing leadership is vital to a range of national interests. National technology leadership is critical for research connected with new weapons and medicines, to the design of cars and consumer products, noted the Times.
"Today even consumer detergent bottles are designed with supercomputers," Eric D. Isaacs, a physicist and provost of the University of Chicago, told the Times. "The Chinese are getting good at building these computers, and it's a competitive issue now for U.S. industry and national security."
What makes the Sunway TaihuLight, the new No. 1 supercomputer system, different from the Tianhe-2 is that its system is built entirely using processors designed and made in China, noted Top500.
Tianhe-2, which held the top spot in the past six Top500 rankings, was built on Intel chips used by China's National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, according to Bloomberg
. Intel is located in Santa Clara, California.
"It's not based on an existing architecture. They built it themselves," Jack Dongarra, a professor at the University of Tennessee and creator of the measurement method used by Top500, told Bloomberg. "This is a system that has Chinese processors."
The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, located at the state-funded Chinese Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, uses a SW26010 processor designed by the Shanghai High Performance IC Design Center, reported Bloomberg.
Other supercomputers ranked in the top 10 of the Top500 list includes the Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Fujitsu's K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan; and Mira, a BlueGene/Q system installed at Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.
Also, the Trinity, a Cray X40 system installed at the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration/Los Alamos National Laboratory/Sandia National Labortories; Piz Daint, a Cray XC30 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre and the most powerful system in Europe; Hazel Hen, a Cray XC40 system installed at HLRS in Stuttgart, Germany; and Shaheen II, a Cray XC40 system installed at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
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