China trounces US in TOP500 supercomputer race

A surprise entrant on the list, China's Tianhe-2 generated 33.86 petaflops

The supercomputing arms race is heating up again between the United States and China, as China retakes the top spot in the 41st Top500 listing of the world's most powerful supercomputers with Tianhe-2, an updated system that was able to execute 33.86 petaflops, or 33.86 thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

Tianhe-2 churned out almost twice as many petaflops as the second computer on the list, Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The top system in the previous Top500 competition, compiled in November, Titan clocked 17.59 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark for this round of the Top500.

The appearance of Tianhe-2 came as something of a surprise, even as word about its immense capabilities leaked out on the Internet earlier this month. The system was not expected to be operational for another two years.

China's National University of Defense Technology built Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, with 16,000 nodes. Each node runs two Intel Xeon IvyBridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors, for a combined total of 3.12 million computing cores. The system, located at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, will be fully operational by the end of the year.

The last time China had topped the list -- which is often capped by a U.S. Energy Department machine -- was with Tianhe-1A, which occupied the top position in November 2010.

The U.S. remains the dominant supercomputer leader, with 253 of the 500 systems on the list. With 65 systems on the list, China ranks second, ahead of Japan, the U.K., France and Germany.

Besides challenging the U.S. dominance of the Top500, The Tianhe-2 system is also notable for its use of technologies developed in China.

"Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part. The interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese," said TOP500 editor Jack Dongarra in a statement. Dongarra visited the site of the Tianhe-2 system in May.

Coming in the third spot is the DOE Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q system that achieved 17.17 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark using 1.5 million cores. Overall, four IBM BlueGene systems made the top 10 list.

Other interesting tidbits about this edition of the Top500: Twenty-six petaflop systems are now on the list, up from 23 six months ago. Eighty-eight percent of the systems use processors of six or more cores, and 80 percent of the systems use Intel processors. The total combined performance of all 500 systems is 223 petaflops, up from 162 petaflops six months ago.

This edition of the Top500, a twice-yearly ranking of the world's fastest publicly known supercomputers, was announced during the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags supercomputersHigh performanceIBMhardware systemsCray

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?