China still has the two fastest supercomputers in the world, and Titan at Oak Ridge National Laboratory remains number three.
The semi-annual TOP500 List of the world’s top supercomputers was released last Monday, November 14, at a conference in Salt Lake City.
Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at ORNL, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory, has achieved 17.59 petaflops, or quadrillions of calculations per second.
The most powerful supercomputer, a relatively new Chinese supercomputer named Sunway TaihuLight, is capable of 93 petaflops. It is built entirely using processors designed and made in China. In June, it displaced Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that had claimed the number one spot on the six previous TOP500 lists.
Tianhe-2, the number two system, achieved a speed of 33.86 petaflops, or more than 33,000 trillion calculations per second, in a test known as the LINPACK benchmark. That ranking program uses a series of linear equations to test computer systems around the world.
Titan, the number three system, was the top supercomputer for a short time. It was number one in November 2012, but it was bumped to number two behind Tianhe-2 in June 2013. This past June was the first time it had been number three.
As big as a basketball court, Titan is 10 times faster than Jaguar, the computer system it replaced. Jaguar, which was capable of about 2.5 petaflops, had ranked as the world’s fastest computer in November 2009 and June 2010.
Titan is used for research in areas such as materials research, nuclear energy, combustion, and climate science.
In June, ORNL officials said a new 200-petaflop supercomputer will succeed Titan, and it could be available to scientists and researchers in 2018. The new IBM supercomputer, named Summit, could about double the computing power of Sunway TaihuLight.
Summit is one of three supercomputers that the U.S. Department of Energy expects to exceed 100 petaflops at three DOE laboratories in 2018.
The United States now has five of the top 10 supercomputers, according to the TOP500 List released last week. Besides Titan at number three, they are:
- Sequoia, a 17.17 petaflop system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California (the number four system);
- Cori, a 14.01 petaflop system at National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California (the number five system);
- Mira, a 8.59 petaflop system at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois (the number nine system); and
- Trinity, a 8.10 petaflop system at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico (the number 10 system).
Japan has two systems in the top 10 (numbers six and seven), and Switzerland has one (number eight).
China and the United States both have 171 systems each in the latest rankings, accounting for two-thirds of the TOP500 List.
After those two countries, Germany has the most systems with 32, followed by Japan with 27, France with 20, and the United Kingdom with 17.
Sunway TaihuLight was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology, or NRCPC, and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China.
Tianhe-2 was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology.
The TOP500 List is compiled by Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Martin Meuer of ISC Group in Germany.
The first version of what became today’s TOP500 List started as an exercise for a small conference in Germany in June 1993. Out of curiosity, the authors decided to revisit the list in November 1993 to see how things had changed. About that time they realized they might be onto something and decided to continue compiling the list, which is now a much-anticipated, much-watched and much-debated twice-yearly event.
See the TOP500 List press release and Top 10 ranking here. It includes a link to the full list.
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