Earlier on Monday, during the International Supercomputer Conference in Germany, Sunway TaihuLight, a newly built Chinese supercomputer was crowned as the World’s fastest computer.
The supercomputer, which is being run out of the National Supercomputing Center in the city of Wuxi, is capable of a LINPACK score of 93 pentaflops, three times more than the now second place Tianhe-2. The LINPACK Benchmarks are a measure of a system’s computing power.
At peak load, the Sunway TaihuLight can perform some 93,000 trillion calculations per second.
This new achievement is especially meaningful for China because it is the first time that the country has built a supercomputer with fully local components.
Past Chinese supercomputers such as the Tianhe-2 used components from foreign vendors such as American chip giant, Intel, whose Xeon CPU’s provided much of the grunt in the Tianhe-2.
Sunway TaihuLight will be used for various engineering and research projects in such fields as climate studies, life science research and data analytics.
The heart of this new supercomputer is a new Chinese made chip called ShenWei which is capable of hitting 3 teraflops. This is on par with Intel’s leading Xeon Phi chips.
Sunway TaihuLight came online earlier than expected because of a more concentrated effort by Chinese researchers to get ShenWei ready in the face of an April 2015 trade embargo by the US that banned the export of ultra high-end processors such as the Xeon Phi.
It has been reported that the Tianhe-2 was supposed to get an upgrade of new Xeon Phi processors which would have upgraded its capabilities greatly.
Earlier today also marked the first time ever that China had more supercomputers on the Top500 list than the United States, 167 for China vs 165 for the US.
The list, published twice a year, ranks the worlds most powerful computers.
Speaking to the people behind the Top500 list, the National Supercomputing Centre’s director, Prof. Dr. Guangwen Yang said that , “As the first number one system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation system.”
In recent years, both the Chinese government as well as private selector companies like Baidu and Alibaba have invested heavily in powerful computing systems that are capable of dealing with the vast quantities of data today’s applications generate.
This is in stark contrast to China’s big tech rival, America, who in recent years has come under fire for having archaic computer systems that run such important functions as the country’s nuclear arsenal and election tabulation.
Accord to some reports, it will take another two years for America to build a computer that is on par with the Sunway TaihuLight system.