China supercomputer superpower

China
is ramping up efforts to become the world’s supercomputing superpower.

Its
Nebulae machine at the National Super Computer Centre in Shenzhen, was ranked
second on the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list.

For
the first time, a second Chinese supercomputer appears in the list of the top
ten fastest machines.

However,
the US still dominates the list with more than half the Top 500, including the
worlds fastest, known as Jaguar.

The
Cray computer, which is owned by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
Tennessee, has a top speed of 1.75 petaflops.

One
petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

It
is used by scientists conducting research in astrophysics, climate science and
nuclear energy.

By
comparison, China has 24 machines in the list. Its fastest has a top speed of
1.20 petaflops, more than double the speed of its previous top supercomputer.
However, it has a theoretical top speed of nearly 3 petaflops, which would make
it the fastest in the world.

The
fastest machine in the UK – which has 38 supercomputers on the list – is housed
at the University of Edinburgh. It has a top speed of 0.27 petaflops.

“The
Top 500 list definitely has an element of flag waving,” said Dr Jon
Lockley, manager of the Oxford Supercomputing Centre.

He
said China was rapidly becoming a “player” in high performance computing.

Dawning,
the company behind the fastest Chinese machine, is reportedly building an even
faster machine for the National Supercomputer Centre in Tianjin. In addition,
it is also developing home-grown silicon chips to power the behemoths.

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