USA gains ground in supercomputer world rankings
The USA has gained ground in the world supercomputer rankings, with 116 supercomputers listed among the top 500 most powerful in the world. This is up from 109 in November 2018.
China continues to dominate the list in terms of the number of installed supercomputers, with 219 top-500 supercomputers, though this is down from 227.
However, because US supercomputers tend to be larger, the overall installed performance is more or less on a par between China and the USA. The total performance of all machines on the list is 1.56 exaflops – 1 exaflops being a billion billion calculations every second.
Here are the top countries in terms of their share of top-500 supercomputers:
The USA keeps hold of the top 2 spots. The Department of Energy's IBM supercomputer Summit holds the top spot, with a maximum recorded performance (Rmax) of 148,600.0 teraflops, and a theoretical peak performance (Rpeak) of 200,794.9 Tflops – far ahead of the competition. Flops stands for floating point operations per second and is a measure of a computer's power.
The second spot is just taken by Sierra, pictured above, also made by IBM (along with Nvidia and Mellanox) and also used by the Department of Energy. It trails with an Rmax of 94,640.0 Tflops and Rpeak of 125,712.0 Tflops. For comparison, an original PlayStation 4 clocks in at 1.84 Tflops.
China claims third on the list with the Sunway TaihuLight (above) at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi which has an Rmax of 93,014.6 Tflops and an Rpeak of 125,435.9 Tflops, only marginally behind Sierra.
It also takes the fourth spot with the Tianhe-2A of the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou (shown above). It clocks in with an Rmax of 61,444.5 Tflops and an Rpeak of 100,678.7 Tflops.
Here's how the top 10 compare in terms of their theoretical peak processing power:
Lassen, made by IBM, Nvidia and Mellanox returns to the top 10 after an upgrade. For the first time ever, all machines in the top 500 have performance of greater than 1,000 Tflops (or 1 petaflops).
The ranking also lists the electrical power consumption of each machine. In the top 10, the Tianhe-2A is the biggest consumer of power, running at 18,482 kW. By comparison, the world's most powerful wind turbine, complete with 220-meter rotor span, generates only 12,000 kW in peak conditions.
The total sum performance of the top 500 is set to sky rocket as the US makes progress on exascale supercomputers like Cray Inc's Frontier (depicted above) and Intel's Aurora, both of which will clock in at over 1 exaflops of processing power. These supercomputers are expected to come online in 2021.
The list also includes the so-called Green500, which ranks supercomputers by their efficiency. Here Summit ranks at number 3 with a performance of 14.719 Gflops/watt. It's bested by the USA's DGX SaturnV Volta at 2 (15.113 Gflops/W), and Japan's Shoubu system B in the top spot (17.604). The top 2 machines in the Green500 rank almost bottom of the top performing 500 machines.