China Moves Ahead of US in Supercomputer Industry

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The People’s Daily, China’s government-controlled media outlet, reports that China has become the world’s leading producer of supercomputers. Its editors also pointed out that the United States has started to lag behind.

A recent report in the People’s Daily had this to say about the world’s fastest supercomputers:

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.

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 by entirely using processors designed and made in China.

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

“For the second time in a row there is no system from the U.S. under the TOP3,” Top500 said in a statement.

The Top500 is published by an organization that tracks supercomputer performance. Its own statement seemed to support that Chinese one:

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

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. China has picked up bragging rights that used to belong to the United States.