China tops global supercomputer speed list for seventh year

TaihuLight, which does a quadrillion calculations per second, uses only home-made processors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 11:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 11:58pm

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 US technology.

The announcement on Monday is a new milestone for Chinese supercomputer development and a further erosion of past American dominance of the field.

Last year’s Chinese winner in the TOP500 ranking maintained by researchers in the US and Germany slipped to second place, followed by a computer at the US 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 third with 29.

Supercomputers are among the technologies targeted by the Communist Party for development and have received heavy financial support.

The nation has come farther and faster than any other country in the history of supercomputing
Organisers of TOP500 ranking

“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 farther and faster than any other country in the history of supercomputing,” the organisers said.

This year’s champion was the Sunway TaihuLight at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi, Jiangsu. It was developed by the National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology using entirely Chinese-designed processors.

Chinese supercomputer ‘too slow’ to compete in race for hypersonic weapons, scientist warns

The TaihuLight is capable of 93 petaflops, or a quadrillion ­calculations per second. 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.

The TaihuLight is due to be introduced on Tuesday at the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt by the director of the Wuxi centre, Guangwen Yang.

“As the first No 1 system of China that is completely based on home-grown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant ­progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems,” Yang said.