World's Fastest Supercomputer Is China's Sunway TaihuLight At A Brisk 93 Petaflops

There’s a new system sitting at the top of the charts of the TOP500 list, which lays out the world’s highest performing supercomputers for all to see. The Sunway TaihuLight Chinese supercomputer has taken over the No. 1 position, achieving an amazing 93 petaflop/s using the LINPACK performance metric.

The TaihuLight, which was developed by National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) and resides at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, is most remarkable for the fact that it's truly a homegrown supercomputer. It uses Chinese-developed ShenWei 26010 (SW26010) 64-bit RISC processors, which each have 260 cores and are rated at 3 teraflops. The TaihuLight contains a staggering 40,960 SW26010 nodes, making for over 10.6 million cores working in tandem.

Sunway TaihuLight

All of this processing power makes TaihuLight twice as fast (and remarkably, three times as efficient) as the second place Tianhe-2 supercomputer (LINPACK score: 33.86 petaflops/s). The Tianhe-2 is also a Chinese supercomputer, but it is powered by Intel processors.

The most powerful offering from the United States is the Titan Cray XK7, which is used in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Compared to the faster Chinese supercomputers, the Cray XK7 seems completely outclassed with its LINPACK score of “only” 17.59 petaflop/s. Rounding out the top 5 is the Sequoia IBM BlueGene/Q system hailing from DOE Livermore National Lab (17.17 petaflops/s) and the Fujitsu K Computer SPARC64 system based at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Japan (10.51 petaflops/s).

It should also be noted that this the 47th edition of the TOP500 list, and it marks the first time that the United States has not fielded the largest number of supercomputers on the list. Instead, China leads the way with 167 systems, while the United States is nipping at China’s heels with 165 systems. Europe is well behind with 105 systems.

Here’s another interesting tidbit to take from the TOP500 list — while Intel may not be powering the No. 1 supercomputer in the world, its dominance of the TOP500 list is unquestionable. Intel processors power 455 of the supercomputers on the list, representing a commanding 91 percent share.