World’s Fastest Supercomputer Sunway TaihuLight Has Chinese Chip Technology

China has now gone ahead in the supercomputing industry beating the US, as they now have more supercomputers than the US, revealed Top500, the company which compiles the rankings of supercomputers twice every year.

The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, located at the state-funded Chinese National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province was on Monday named the world’s fastest computer at the International Supercomputing Conference in Germany. It is more than two times as powerful as the previous record-holder Tianhe-2.

At the same time, the National Supercomputing Centre was also unveiled in China’s Jiangsu province, where the new-generation supercomputer is installed, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Considering that just 10 years ago, China claimed a mere 28 systems on the list, with none ranked in the top 30, the nation has come further and faster than any other country in the history of supercomputing,” the TOP500 organizers said in a statement.

“This is the first time that the Chinese have more systems than the US, so that, I think, is a striking accomplishment,” said Jack Dongarra, a professor at the University of Tennessee and creator of the measurement method used by TOP500. The Chinese had no machines in the 2001 list, he noted. In the latest, China has 167 entries compared with 165 for the US.

Sunway-TaihuLight is the first supercomputer to achieve speeds in excess of 10 petaflops (PFlops) with processing capacity of 125.436 PFlops per second, which means it can perform quadrillions of calculations per second at peak performance.

The computing power of the supercomputer is provided by a China-developed many-core CPU chip, which is just 25 square cm.

Yang Guangwen, Head of the Centre said, “It would take 7.2 billion people using electronic calculators 32 years, or two million desktop computers working together for one minute, to do the same calculation the computer can solve in just 60 seconds.”

Sunway-TaihuLight has more than 40,000 chips that contain 10.65 million processor cores in 40 cabinets and is installed inside the centre’s 1,000-square-metre computer room. In the meantime, the fastest supercomputer from the US only has about 560,000 cores in total.

In addition to its speed, it is much more energy-efficient than its predecessor Tianhe-2, which was the world’s best supercomputer for six years. Sunway-TaihuLight can support six billion calculations for one watt of electricity, which is just a third of the energy consumption by the China-developed Tianhe-2, which registered 33.86 PFlops per second, for the same calculations.

However, other countries are advancing their own supercomputing prowess, said Fu Haohuan, Deputy Head of the centre.

The US targets to generate a supercomputer with 1,000 PFlops per second by 2025. At its current speed, it is expected to have designed a supercomputer with speed three to five times that of Tianhe-2 by 2017.

“Although speed is a primary target, controlling the energy level is just as vital. Otherwise, future supercomputers will consume power equivalent to the amount used by a middle-size city,” said Fu.

China has directed 1.8 billion yuan ($273 million) to support the development of Sunway-TaihuLight, about one third of which was from the central government and the other two thirds was shared by the Jiangsu provincial and Wuxi municipal governments.

China’s supercomputing technology on Monday was also included on the shortlist of the German Innovation Award’s Gottfried Wagnner Prize. This was the first time that China has been included on the shortlist. The winner will be announced later this year.

Sunway TaihuLight’s victory is a particular challenge to Intel’s dominance in computer servers, where it currently controls about 96 percent of the market. Earlier this year, it announced a joint venture with a Chinese organization to domesticate some of its technology.

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