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China regains No 1 supercomputer title

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-06-17 16:22

WASHINGTON - A supercomputer developed by Chinese researchers was ranked on Monday as the world's fastest computing system, overtaking the former champion made by the United States.

According to TOP500, a project ranking the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world, Tianhe-2 developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, was capable of operating as fast as 33.86 petaflops per second.

It overtook Titan, installed at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is now ranked No 2 with a performance of 17.59 petaflops per second.

Tianhe-2 marks China's return to the No 1 position of the TOP500 list since November 2010, when Tianhe-1A was the top system. Tianhe-1A is now the No 10 system on the list.

TOP500 editor Horst Simon, deputy director of the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, described Tianhe-2 as being "a great accomplishment" for China.

Tihanhe-2 demonstrates that China can build a large system with a string component of domestically developed technology and shows China's strong technology investments in high-performance computing (HPC), Simon told Xinhua.

William Gropp, director of the Parallel Computing Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, held the same opinion. He said China's investment in HPC shows how serious China is about being among the leaders in 21st century technology.

Gropp said that the commitment of China to HPC, and in particular to the continued and sustained development of new and better systems, will ensure that China is an important player in HPC.

Sequoia, another supercomputer developed by the United States, dropped one position and is now the No 3 system with a performance of 17.17 petaflops per second, followed by Japan's K computer with 10.51 petaflops per second, and Mira in the United States with 8.59 petaflops per second.

Overall, the United States is the leader in supercomputing systems, taking up more than half of the entries in the list. As a nation, China now holds the No 2 position with 65 entries, ahead of Japan, Britain, France and Germany.

"The US continues to be the leading country in HPC, but the gap is closing," said Simon. He said the worldwide HPC distribution may be changing in the next decade.

According to Simon, countries that still lag behind such as India or Brazil are expected to invest more heavily and China could become an exporter for HPC technology to developing countries.

"There are many potentially big changes ahead, as many countries continue to industrialize and then recognize the value of HPC," Simon added.

The TOP500 list, released twice a year since June 1993, is considered the authoritative ranking of the world's supercomputers.

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