China’s new supercomputer takes world lead; Titan drops to No. 3 on TOP500

summitpicChina has retained the top spot on the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers with a newly developed system built entirely with Chinese-made processors, according to Monday’s announcement at the biannual International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

The new system — dubbed Sunway TaihuLight — is reportedly capable of 93 million billion calculations per second or 93 petaflops. China’s Tianha-2, which previously was ranked No. 1, dropped to the second slot, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer, a Cray XK7 system, is third on the newly released list.

ORNL is currently working with IBM on a next-generation supercomputer that will be called Summit (conceptual image, insert) and reportedly capable of 150 to 300 petaflops. It is scheduled to be delivered next year and achieve full operations in 2018.

The newly released TOP500 list reflects the broadening influence of China, which for the first time has more supercomputers on the list than the United States.

“With a surge in industrial and research installations registered over the last few years, China leads with 167 systems and the U.S. is second with 165,” the announcement stated. “China also leads in the performance category, thanks to the No. 1 and No. 2 systems.”

Buddy Bland of ORNL said for several years Titan has been the “most scientifically productive” computer in the world, allowing academic, government and industry partners to do “remarkable research in a variety of scientific fields.”

Since 2014, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility has been working with IBM, Nvidia and Mellanox to develop “a more powerful machine whose capabilities will far exceed today’s supercomputers,” Bland said.

Delivery of Summit — Titan’s successor — will begin next year, he said.

“We’re already scaling applications that will allow Summit to deliver an order of magnitude more science with at least 200 petaflops of compute power,” Bland said via email.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.