China has record number of supercomputers in TOP500

China has record number of supercomputers in TOP500

For years, China has claimed the top spot on a list of the 500 fastest supercomputers. The 50th edition of Top500 ranking also shows that China has overtaken the United States in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 144.

The steady increase in computing power on the Top500 list of supercomputers tailed off in recent years.

While many of these machines do not have practical value beyond uses in the scientific community, the top of the list is a sort of badge of honor for R&D done by some of the leading tech firms in each country.

At the SC 17 supercomputing show starting Monday in Denver, NASA will show off supercomputing work into precise simulations of climate change on Earth, the aerodynamics of drones that fly using multiple propellers and detailed forecasts of shock-wave damage from meteors.

The fiftieth TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world has China overtaking the USA in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 143.

How fast is a supercomputer?

The processing speeds of a supercomputer are measured in floating points operations per second, or "flops".

Until six months ago, the USA led with 169 systems to China's 160; the number of listings by US has now dropped to 143, putting it in second place.

The world's fastest supercomputer, the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight, can reach up to 93 petaflops. Considering that the Asian country has been accounting for almost 20 percent of the department's expenditures, it should be no surprise that Japan finished in third place at 35 supercomputers, Germany with 20, France with 18, and the United Kingdom with 15.

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.

"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.

The list, produced twice a year, rates supercomputers based on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US. 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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