Where is the world's most powerful computer?

Jack Dongarra, Report on the Sunway TaihuLight System, June 2016 via Top500

China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer Image: Jack Dongarra

Emma Luxton
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Twice as fast and three times as efficient as its predecessor, China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer has officially become the most powerful computer in the world.

Capable of processing speeds of 93 petaflops, the system can perform around 93,000 trillion calculations per second.

Tianhe-2, the previous leader of the TOP500 list of the world’s supercomputers, was also from China. Machines from the United States take third and fourth place on the latest ranking.

The rise of Chinese supercomputers

Based at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi, the Sunway TaihuLight is not only the most powerful computer in the world, it is also the first winner to be made entirely using Chinese chips.

It is used for advanced manufacturing and engineering, climate and weather research, as well as data analytics.

Guangwen Yang, the director of the Wuxi Center, had this to say to TOP500: “As the first number one system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems.”

For the first time since the creation of the list in 1993, China has overtaken the US with the most computers in the list.

With 167 supercomputers in the top 500, compared with 165 for the US, China has secured its spot at the top of supercomputing.

“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,” TOP500 noted.

 Top 10 supercomputers

The US is home to four of the 10 most powerful supercomputers, and Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Saudi Arabia also feature in the top 10.

What is the TOP500?

Providing twice yearly rankings, the TOP500 uses the Linpack benchmark to rank computer systems on their ability to solve a set of linear equations.

Only supercomputers that can solve them make it on to the list.

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