The TOP500 supercomputer list encompasses the best supercomputers the world can produce. For the past few years, the Chinese Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) has led the pack scoring 33 petaflops. As of this week though, China's Sunway TaihuLight managed to score a massive 93 petaflops. The TaihuLight system is a game-changer for China as it is the first number one system that is completely based on homegrown processors.
In the top 500 list of supercomputers, China had 167 systems, the US had 165, Japan had 29, Germany had 26, France had 18, and the UK had 12. Ten years ago, China had just 28 systems on the list but none ranked within the top 30. The massive strides made by China in the sector is down to the fact the country has put huge financial support into supercomputer development.
According to TOP500, supercomputer improvement has been sluggish:
“The top 10 list is unchanged, save for the new number one, which bumped all the other systems down a notch. The rest of the list followed that general trend, resulting in a slower rate of performance growth that started back in 2008. Prior that that year, aggregate supercomputer performance was increasing at around 90 percent per year; after 2008, it flattened out to 55 percent per year. If TaihuLight hadn’t been submitted this time around, the aggregate performance would have barely budged at all since last November.”
The Sunway TaihuLight has a total 10,649,600 CPU cores across the entire system. It uses 40,960 Chinese-designed SW26010 manycore 64-bit RISC processors. Each processor chip has 256 general-purpose processing cores, and an extra four auxiliary cores for system management. The TaihuLight runs Sunway Raise OS 2.0.5, which is based on Linux. It will cater for engineering and research needs, including the fields of climate, weather, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and data analytics.