The fastest and most powerful computer in the world is still in China and it still is the Tianhe-2 supercomputer.

The Top500 Organization ranks the 500 fastest computers in the world and updates its list twice a year. It has placed the Tianhe-2 in the top spot for the fourth time in a row.

In the latest Top500 compilation released by the group on Nov. 17, the Tianhe-2 managed to retain its position as the fastest system in the world. The supercomputer, which is based in China's National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), can perform 33.86 quadrillion floating point operations, or FLOPS, in one second.

A floating point operation refers to a math problem involving fractional number that when measured in quadrillions is referred to as petaflop.

Apple's Mac Pro, one of the most powerful commercially available computers today, can be configured to top out approximately seven trillion FLOPS but with Tianhe-2, whose name means "Milky Way," performing at 33.86 petaflops, China's supercomputer performs more than 4,000 times better than Apple's most powerful Mac.

Building Tianhe-2 costs about $390 million. The supercomputer, which is made up of thousands of Intel Xeon E5-2692v2 12C 2.2GHz processors, runs a version of Linux specially developed by NUDT. The machine is also almost twice as fast as the computer that made it to the Top500 list, Cray's Titan, which can be found at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers has somehow become nearly stagnant as the computers that have made it to the top 10 -- sans one this year -- were the same ones that were named in last year's list. A Cray supercomputer that was built for an undisclosed government agency in the U.S. is this year's top 10 newcomer at number 10 with its 3.57 petaflops capacity.

The other supercomputers that made it to the list were Sequoia of DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which made it to the third spot; K computer in Japan's RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) at fourth; Mira installed at the DOE's Argonne National Laboratory at fifth; Piz Daint at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS)in Switzerland at sixth; Stampede at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas (7th), JUQUEEN at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ) in Germany (8th), and Vulcan, also from DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which made it to the 9th spot.

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