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China overtakes the USA in race for supercomputer dominance

14 November 2017

Overall, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has installed the most systems on the Top 500 List, with 122 supercomputers and HPC systems attached to the company.

For the last few years, China has been outshining the U.S.by consistently ranking first in TOP500's supercomputing rankings list, most notably with its TaihuLight.

In the past six months, USA has led the TOP500 list with 169 supercomputers compared to China's 160.

The news underscores the relentless ascent of China's supercomputing trajectory in recent years. Today's slowest machine has the performance of the fastest one in 2008.

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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.

Supercomputers, mammoth machines that can occupy entire buildings and use thousands of processors, are useful for tasks like simulating nuclear weapons explosions, forecasting weather, designing aircraft and investigating the cosmos by reconstructing billions of year of the universe's history.

How fast is a supercomputer?

"At the very high end - the systems in the top 10 - those are there for two reasons", TOP500's co-founder Erich Strohmaier told BBC. Just six months ago, the USA led with 169 systems, with China slightly trailing with 160.

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According to a biannual ranking of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers, called the Top500 published Monday, China's Sunway TaihuLight maintains the lead as the No. 1 system for the fourth time, with a performance of 93.01 petaflops. The Asian country now claims 35.3 percent of the TOP500 flops, with the United States at second place with 29.8 percent.

The US is in fifth place with its Titan, a Cray supercomputer located at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

The list, produced twice a year, rates supercomputers based on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US. Supercomputers are vital tools for advanced scientific work due to their ability to perform rapid calculations for everything from weather forecasts to missile development. By this measure, Fujitsu's K Computer at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Japan is the top performer.

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China overtakes the USA in race for supercomputer dominance