Chinese Headline TOP500 Supercomputer Rankings As Swiss Piz Daint Muscles US Out Of Top 3

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It was bad enough when the Chinese leapfrogged the United States in the supercomputer field, but now it looks as though Switzerland has come in and poured salt on America’s wounds. This morning, the TOP500 list was refreshed and it’s not good news for the U.S.

There were no changes the very top of the rankings, with China taking the number 1 and number 2 positions.  Sunway TaihuLight, which was commissioned by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) still tops the list with Linpack performance coming in at 93 petaflops. Second place is still held by another Chinese resident, the Tianhe-2, which comes in at 33.9 petaflops.

The shakeup comes in the third-place position, where Cray XC50-based Piz Daint is taking those honors with 19.6 petaflops in Linpack. Piz Daint is in use at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS), which is located at the University in Porza, Switzerland. Piz Daint is also now the fastest GPU-based supercomputer, thanks to a recent upgrade that saw its NVIDIA Tesla K20X graphics swapped out for Tesla P100 replacements. With that brash move by the Swiss, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory “Titan” supercomputer has been relegated to fourth place at 17.6 petaflops.

“With the two Chinese supercomputers and one Swiss system occupying the top of the rankings, this is the second time in the 24-year history of the TOP500 list that the United States has failed to secure any of the top three positions,” writes the TOP500 team. “The only other time this occurred was in November 1996, when three Japanese systems captured the top three spots.”

If there’s any consolation, U.S.-based systems secured five of the top ten spots on the TOP500 list. And on the hardware front, America’s tech companies are well represented. “Intel continues to be the dominant supplier of TOP500 chips. Either Xeon or Xeon Phi processors power 464 of the 500 systems,” the TOP500 team adds. “IBM Power processors are in 21 systems, while AMD Opteron CPUs are present in six systems. Processor share, with regard to supplier, has not changed appreciably over the last year.”

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Piz Daint Supercomputer

The new TOP500 list comes just days after the Department of Energy announced that it would make available $258 million in funds to AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, IBM and Cray with the goal of deploying an exascale supercomputer by the year 2021.

“Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation,” said Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry last week. “These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing—exascale-capable systems.”