A Chinese supercomputer has topped a list of the world's fastest computers for the seventh straight year -and for the first time the winner uses only Chinese-designed processors instead of U.S. technology. The announcement yesterday is a new milestone for Chinese supercomputer development and a further erosion of past U.S. dominance of the field. Last year's Chinese winner in the TOP500 ranking maintained by researchers in the United States and Germany slipped to No. 2, followed by a computer at the U.S. government's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Also this year, China displaced the United States for the first time as the country with the most supercomputers in the top 500. China had 167 systems and the United States had 165. Japan was a distant No. 3 with 29 systems. Supercomputers are one of a series of technologies targeted by China's ruling Communist Party for development and have received heavy financial support. Such systems are used for weather forecasting, designing nuclear weapons, analyzing oilfields and other specialized purposes.
"Considering that just 10 years ago, China claimed a mere 28 systems on the list, with none ranked in the top 30, the nation has come further and faster than any other country in the history of supercomputing," the TOP500 organizers said in a statement.
This year's champion is the Sunway TaihuLight at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, west of Shanghai, according to TOP500. It was developed by China's National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology using entirely Chinese-designed processors.
The TaihuLight is capable of 93 petaflops, or quadrillion calculations per second, according to TOP500. It is intended for use in engineering and research including climate, weather, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and data analytics. Its top speed is about five times that of Oak Ridge's Titan, which uses Cray, NVIDIA and Opteron technology. Other countries with computers in the Top 10 were Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Saudi Arabia. The TaihuLight is due to be introduced today at the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt by the director of the Wuxi center, Guangwen Yang. The second-fastest computer, the Tianhe-2 at the National Supercomputer Center in the southern city of Guangzhou, is capable of 33 petaflops. It uses chips made by Intel Corp. Among countries with the most computers on the top 500 list, Germany was in fourth place with 26 systems, France was next with 18, followed by Britain with 12.