China has just unveiled a supercomputer to the world that, at 93 petaflops (peta-floating-point operations), is the fastest in the world. What's remarkable about the Sunway TaihuLight super computer is that the entire system was built using processors made in China.
The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer blows past the Chinese-built Tianhe-2 supercomputer by a factor of three, declared Top500, the authority that ranks supercomputers. At just under 34 petaflops, the Tianhe-2 ranks second.
In contrast, India's fastest supercomputer, PARAM Yuva II, is ranked at number 165 by Top500 and peaks at 524 teraflops. One petaflop is equal to 1,000 teraflops.
The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer is powered by Chinese-developed ShenWei processors. The supercomputer will be used in climate, weather and earth systems modelling as well as data analytics, life science research and advanced manufacturing, Top500 reported. The supercomputer is located at the National Supercomputing Center in the city of Wuxi, near Shanghai.
What are the supercomputers that Sunway TaihuLight beat to gain the top spot? Here's a list of the five fastest supercomputers.
Ranked number 2, the Tianhe-2 supercomputer is located at China's National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou. Unlike the Sunway TaihuLight, the Tianhe-2 is powered by a mix of Intel Xenon and Phi processors. The Tianhe-2 supercomputer has been reported to be used for a variety of applications, from conducting aircraft simulations to government security applications.
Another former number 1, the Titan supercomputer is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States. Built by Cray, the Titan is reported to use a "hybrid architecture," that uses AMD's 16-core Opteron CPUs and NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU accelerators. Built for science, the Titan supercomputer is used in molecular simulations, climate change studies, combustion simulations and more. Ranked number 3, the Titan runs at 17.5 petaflops.
Running at 17.1 petaflops, the fourth spot in the supercomputer race is held by IBM-developed Sequoia. Named after one of the biggest growing trees in existence, this supercomputing behemoth got a boost in 2012, which took it from the 17th spot to the first. Located at the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration at the Livermore National Laboratory in California, U.S., the supercomputer is reported to be used in nuclear research.
According to Top500, the fifth-fastest supercomputer is called K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect. Since that's a bit of a mouthful, we're sticking with K computer. A Japanese Fujitsu-built supercomputer, the K computer peaks at 10 petaflops and much like every other supercomputer on this list, held the top spot for a while, back in 2011. The supercomputer sits at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Hyogo, Japan. Yet another supercomputer developed for science, the K computer is reported to be used in research related to quantum physics.