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China Out performs the US in Super Computers

supercomputerIt’s been rumored, but now it’s official. The Chinese Tianhe-1A system at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin has achieved a performance level of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second). This puts it in the number one spot on the 36th edition of the TOP500‘s world’s most powerful supercomputer list, the organization said Sunday.

As a result, the prior winner on the list—the Cray XT5 “Jaguar” system at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee—is now ranked in second place, with a score of 1.75 petaflop/s.

Jaguar was expected to lose the top spot in the latest survey, ever since news first leaked in late October that the Tianhe-1A was testing considerably faster. TOP500 benchmarks each supercomputer with Linpack, the organization’s benchmark application.

The next three spots in the TOP500 are held by Nebulae, a Chinese system in Shenzhen rated at 1.27 petaflop/s; Tsubame 2.0, a system at the Tokyo Institute of Technology that scores 1.19 petaflop/s; and Hopper, a Cray XE6 system at DOE’s National Research Energy Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center in California, which hits 1.05 petaflop/s.

Interestingly, the two Chinese systems and Tsubame 2.0 are all using Nvidia GPUs to accelerate computation. In fact, 28 systems overall on the TOP500 uses GPUs as accelerators; 16 employ the Cell processor, 10 use Nvidia chips, and two use AMD Radeons chips.

Seven of the top 10 systems achieved one petaflop/s or greater, according to TOP500. Five of the systems belong to the U.S., while the others are located in China, Japan, France, and Germany.

Despite losing the top spot in terms of overall performance by a single machine, the United States remains the leading consumer of HPC (high-performance computing) systems with 275 of the 500 in the list, although that’s down a bit from 282 back in June. Europe’s share is down as well, from 144 to 124, while Asia’s is now at 84, up from 57. As far as U.S. companies are concerned, IBM remains at the top, followed by Cray and HP, the report said. Over 81 percent of the TOP500 employ Intel processors, while 11 percent use AMD Opterons and eight percent use IBM Power processors.

More details will surface at a special November 17th session at the SC10 Conference on High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, which is currently underway in New Orleans, the organization said in a statement.