The crown for the fastest supercomputer remains in China, with Sunway TaihuLight taking the top spot from Tianhe-2. The new system is able to do almost three times more operations per second.
The recent TOP500 list of the most powerful supercomputers was announced at the International Supercomputing Conference, and TaihuLight has quickly taken center stage. The new machine can perform 93 petaflops, which is jargon for 93 quadrillion operations per second. That’s equivalent to over 50,000 Playstation 4s or about 2.6 million Samsung Galaxy S6s.
TaihuLight is both powerful and efficient. It is made of 10.65 million cores divided on 41,000 chips, and it only uses 1.3 petabytes (1,300 terabytes) of RAM, which makes it incredibly energy efficient – it only needs 15.3 megawatts of power. By comparison, the most powerful supercomputer in the US only has 560,000 cores, and on power consumption, Tianhe-2 needs 17.8 megawatts for its 33 petaflops.
Although the focus is all on the latest Chinese machine, the TOP500 list shows significant progress in the entire field. The total combined performances have grown by almost 200 petaflops in the last year, with 95 machines now performing more than 1 petaflop. China also leads the list in the number of machines, 167, with the US second with 165. Europe shares 105 systems, 26 of which are in Germany, 18 in France, and 12 in the UK.
Supercomputers are a vital instrument for national security, scientific research, and industry. Climate forecasting, synthesizing new drugs, and product design are but a few ways that supercomputers impact everyday life.