U.S. moves down a step in global supercomputing rankings

Titan supercomputer, now number three. (GBPublic_PR / Flickr)

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The most recent edition of the biannual TOP500 global survey of supercomputers, released Monday, shows the top U.S. machine slipping in the rankings.

The Titan supercomputer, which is based at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is the country’s most powerful supercomputer, was edged from its No. 3 spot by Piz Daint, a Swiss system. It’s only the second time in the 24-year history of the rankings that the U.S. hasn’t had a system in the top three. Titan now ranks at No. 4.

To be fair, it’s a close race — Titan has a Linpack benchmark of 17.6 petaflops, while Piz Daint performs at 19.6 petaflops. The Chinese Sunway TaihuLight computer, by contrast, which leads the TOP500 rankings, has a Linpack result of 93 petaflops. The Linpack benchmark measures how quickly a computer solves a dense system of linear equations.

Also, despite no longer holding a top-three spot, the U.S. does own five of the top 10 supercomputers in the world, the most of any country.

The new rankings come just days after the DOE revealed $258 million in research and development grants aimed at building the nation’s first exascale supercomputer. Advanced Micro Devices, Cray Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprises, IBM, Intel and NVIDIA will all receive, and contribute, funding over the next three years. While exascale computing remains just out of reach China claims to be close — in January engineers said a prototype will be ready by the end of the year.

The TOP500 project is operated by German high-performance computing company Prometeus GmbH.

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DOE, Energy Department, supercomputers, Supercomputing, TOP500