A new Chinese supercomputer has nabbed the top spot among the world's most powerful machines.
According to TOP500, the National Supercomputing Center's Sunway TaihuLight outperformed the former champ, China's Tianhe-2, by a factor of three.
With a Linpack mark of 93 petaflops (compared to Tianhe-2's once-impressive 33.86 petaflops), TaihuLight is powered by a new ShenWei processor and custom interconnect—both developed locally.
According to TOP500, curator of the bi-annual supercomputer rankings, it was the US embargo of high-end processors like Intel's "Knights Landing" Xeon Phi, imposed on a number of Chinese supercomputing centers last year, that pushed the country to manufacture similar chips domestically.
"As the first No. 1 system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems," Center Director Guangwen Yang told TOP500, curator of the bi-annual supercomputer rankings.
Currently operating in Wuxi (two hours west of Shanghai), the machine was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC). It runs the Sunway Raise OS (with a standard Linux base) and boasts more than 1.3 PB of memory.
NRCPC's powerful processor, the SW26010, is a 260-core chip that can crank out just over 3 teraflops. TaihuLight has a single SW26010 in each of its 40,960 nodes, totalling 125 peak petaflops across the entire machine (more than 10 million cores).
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The computer will be put to use for engineering work in climate, weather, and Earth systems modeling, life science research, advanced manufacturing, and data analytics.
Rounding out the top 10 are IBM's Sequoia (USA), Fujitsu's K (Japan), Mira (USA), Trinity (USA), Piz Daint (Switzerland), Hazel Hen (Germany), and Shaheen II (Saudi Arabia).
This marks the first time since the inception of the TOP500 that the US is not home to the largest number of systems. That honor now belongs to China, with 167 systems; the US currently has 165.