For a few years now, China has been sitting comfortably atop the supercomputing power throne thanks in large part to Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2, which occupied the top two positions in the TOP500 supercomputer listings last year. The East Asian country's dominance has now been stunted by the U.S., though possibly only for a short time.
The United States Department of Energy, in collaboration with IBM, this week showed off what is now the fastest supercomputer in the world: Summit. With its 200 quadrillion calculations per second (200 petaflops), it comes in at more than two times as fast as China's Sunway TaihuLight.
The ginormous machine occupies an area of up to two tennis courts, and requires over 4,000 gallons of water per minute to cool its 37,000 processors.
The U.S. may not be able to savour the taste of victory for very long, however, as China has already announced plans for a next-gen Sunway machine that is supposed to be able to provide a throughput of a quintillion calculations per second (1 exaflop). The supercomputer was last expected to be made ready sometime this month. Researchers at IBM, too, have been testing a similar throughput on Summit. Not to be outdone, Japan is also reported as being very serious about contending for the top stop in the supercomputer rankings, though its planned 130 petaflop machine now seems almost paltry in light of the power of Summit and whatever the Chinese may concoct next. The coming months will surely be interesting for those with a strong interest in the field.