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November 14, 2017

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China leads the world’s fastest supercomputers

ONCE again, China dominated a new list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, not only taking the top two seats, but also pulling ahead of the United States in the sheer number of systems being used.

According to a biannual ranking of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, called the Top500 published yesterday, China’s Sunway TaihuLight maintains the lead as the No. 1 system for the fourth time, with a performance of 93.01 petaflops.

China’s Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, is still the No. 2 system at 33.86 petaflops. Intel chip-based Tianhe-2 had topped the list for three years until it was displaced in November 2015 by TaihuLight, which was built entirely using processors designed and made in China.

Switzerland’s Piz Daint, which is also the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, is No. 3. A new system in Japan, called Gyoukou, is No. 4, pushing Titan, the top US system, to No. 5.

“For the second time in a row there is no system from the US under the Top 3,” Top500 said in a statement.

And that’s not all. The 50th edition of Top500 ranking also shows that China has overtaken the US in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 144. Just six months ago, the US. led with 169 systems, and China with 159.

“It is the largest number of supercomputers China has ever claimed on the TOP500 ranking, with the US presence shrinking to its lowest level since the list’s inception 25 years ago,” Top500 said.

“China now clearly shows a substantially larger number of installations than the United States.”

China has also overtaken the US in aggregate performance as well, claiming 35.3 percent of the TOP500 flops, with the US at second place with 29.8 percent.

When it comes to companies making these systems, US-based Hewlett-Packard Enterprise leads in the number of installed supercomputers at 123, which represents nearly a quarter of all TOP500 systems.

China’s Lenovo followed HPE with 81 systems, down from 88 systems on the June list, and another Chinese company called Inspur jumped to the third position with 56 systems, up from sixth place and 20 systems only six month ago.

Liu Jun, Inspur’s high performance computing general manager, said China and its research institutes and companies have invested a lot in supporting HPC research, development and innovation.

“So China has improved greatly in its HPC competitiveness and performance,” he said. “In addition, the United States and Europe may have a more prolonged update cycle for their supercomputers.”

Liu cautioned that China’s overtaking of the US in the total number of ranked systems didn’t make too much sense.

“We should be soberly aware that core technologies of the mainstream products on the HPC market, such as CPU and GPU, are now still being dominated and controlled by US companies,” Liu said.

“China still lags far behind when compared with the US and Europe and requires continuous efforts for further development,” Liu said.

Experts also predicted that Summit, a system now being developed by the US Department of Energy, could dethrone China’s TaihuLight next year, with an expected performance of 200 petaflops.



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