China Dominates List of Top 500 SuperComputers as U.S. Summit Looms

by Sean Michael Kerner

The November Top 500 Supercomputer list is out, and while there's no change at the top, 2018 could see a brand new U.S.-based supercomputer top the list.

The November edition of the semi-annual Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers shows only small changes from the June listing. 2018 on the other hand is poised to be a big year for supercomputers, and it could be the year the U.S. finally regains the crown of the world's fastest supercomputer.

Once again, the top system in the world according to the November 2017 list is the Sunway TaihuLight, which is deployed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China. The Sunway TaihuLight has held the number one position on the Top 500 list since June 2016.

What has changed though is the overall number of systems coming from China. In the June edition, the U.S. was home to 169 of the top 500 supercomputers, while China had 160. But as of the November list, China has the most top supercomputers in the world with 202, with the U.S. dropping to 143.

Currently the fastest supercomputer in the U.S is the five-year-old Titan, which is a Cray XK7 system that is located at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Titan ranks number five in the world with 17.59 petaflops of performance. In contrast, the number one-ranked Sunway TaihuLight boasts 93 petaflops of performance.

Awaiting the Summit Supercomputer

The rankings of the world's top supercomputers is expected to change in 2018 though, with multiple large systems currently under development. And arguably the largest new system in the world that is currently being built resides in the U.S.

The Summit supercomputer will be located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is designed to hit a peak of 200 petaflops. The Summit System is being built by IBM and uses the POWER9 silicon architecture.

"We're still targeting early 2018 for the final build-out of the Summit machine, which we expect will be among the world's fastest supercomputers," Buddy Bland, Oak Ridge leadership computing facility director, stated. "The advanced capabilities of the IBM POWER9 CPUs coupled with the NVIDIA Volta GPUs, will significantly advance the computational performance of DOE's mission-critical applications."

The Summit is likely only the first in a new generation of U.S.-based supercomputers that will help to re-establish American supercomputing dominance. The U.S. Government first announced plans to help fund and build the next generation of high-performance computing systems in June 2017 as part of the Exascale Computing Project, which has received $430 million in funding.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

This article was originally published on Thursday Nov 16th 2017
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