China is beginning to dominate the supercomputer industry.

For the first time, the East Asian country has edged past the United States in the biannual list of top 500 supercomputers in the world.

The 47th edition of the Top500 supercomputer ranking now contains 167 Chinese supercomputers, putting China ahead of the U.S., which has 165 systems.

"This is the first time the U.S. has lost the lead," said Professor Jack Dongarra, one of the authors of the Top500 list.

But that's not all. China's king of all supercomputers Tianhe-2 has now been dethroned by another Chinese supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight.

Dethroning The King

Placing first on six Top500 lists, Tianhe-2 previously dominated the rankings with its 33.86 petaflops per second performance on the Linpack benchmark. For comparison, Tianhe-2's performance is more than 4,000 times better than that of the Apple Mac Pro.

Now, China's new supercomputer is just as impressive. The Sunway TaihuLight is capable of 93 petaflops per second on the Linpack benchmark, clearly outperforming the Tianhe-2 by a factor of three.

In order to draw upon an incredible processing power, TaihuLight requires 10,649,600 computer cores made up of 40,960 SW26010 processors designed and made in China.

Each processor has four management processing elements (MPEs) as well as four blocks that each contain 64 computing processing elements (CPEs).

The machine is a source of national pride for China because it is built entirely on Chinese chips, with a custom interconnect and a new ShenWei processor unlike its predecessor, which used Intel processors.

It was developed by the same group that designed the Sunway BlueLight, the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

Practical Applications

TaihuLight is currently running at the National Supercomputing Center in the manufacturing and technology hub of Wuxi, located two hours away from Shanghai.

The new supercomputer will be used for engineering work and various research in areas such as weather and earth systems modeling, climate, advanced manufacturing, life science and data analytics.

Professor Guangwen Yang, director of the center, will formally unveil the supercomputer on Tuesday afternoon in a session at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt, Germany.

Yang says the TaihuLight system displays the significant development that China has made in the domain of large-scale computer system manufacturing and design.

Meanwhile, Dongarra said three simulation codes that work on TaihuLight are nominated as Gordon Bell Prize finalists. The Gordon Bell Prize award is given yearly to the most significant HPC application based on special achievements and peak performances.

Two of the simulation codes have sustained 30 to 40 petaflops. Dongarra has written a paper [PDF] that describes the applications and the architecture of the TaihuLight.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.