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Latest top500 list highlights slump in systems from the US

The fiftieth TOP500 list of the fastest supercomputers in the world – released this week ahead of the SC17 conference taking place in Denver, Colorado – shows a slump in the number of systems from the US as it has reached its lowest level since the list’s inception 25 years ago.

China has once again shown its dominance in the Top500. While no system has replaced Sunway’s TaihuLight, China has overtaken the US in the total number of ranked systems by a margin of 202 to 143.

Just six months ago, the US led with 169 systems, with China coming in at 160. Despite the slowed development from the US the country still has143 systems on the list which gives them a solid second place finish, with Japan in third place with 35, followed by Germany with 20, France with 18, and the UK with 15.

China has also overtaken the US in aggregate performance claiming 35.4 per cent of the TOP500 flops, with the US in second place with 29.6 per cent.

While there are no new systems at the top of the list there were several new or upgraded entries in the top 10.

The top 10 systems remain largely unchanged since the June 2017 list, with a couple of notable exceptions including the new number 4 spot which is taken by the upgraded Gyoukou supercomputer, a ZettaScaler-2.2 system deployed at Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology - the home of the Earth Simulator. Gyoukou managed to achieve an HPL result of 19.14 petaflops using PEZY-SC2 accelerators, along with conventional Intel Xeon processors. The system’s 19,860,000 cores represent the highest level of concurrency ever recorded on the TOP500 ranking.

The new number seven system is Trinity, a Cray XC40 supercomputer operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. It was recently upgraded with Intel ‘Knights Landing’ Xeon Phi processors, which increased performance from 8.10 petaflops to its current total of 14.14 petaflops.

Cori, a Cray XC40 supercomputer, installed at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), is now the eighth fastest supercomputer in the world. Its 1,630 Intel Xeon ‘Haswell’ processor nodes and 9,300 Intel Xeon Phi 7250 nodes achieved an HPL result of 14.01 petaflops.

At 13.55 petaflops, Oakforest-PACS, a Fujitsu PRIMERGY CX1640 M1 installed at Joint Center for Advanced High Performance Computing in Japan, is the number nine system. It too is powered by Intel ‘Knights Landing’ Xeon Phi processors.

Fujitsu’s K computer installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, is now the number 10 system at 10.51 petaflops. Its performance is derived from its 88 thousand SPARC64 processor cores linked by Fujitsu’s Tofu interconnect. Despite its tenth-place showing on HPL, the K Computer is the top-ranked system on the High-Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) benchmark.

For the first time, each of the top 10 supercomputers delivered more than 10 petaflops on HPL. There are also 181 systems with performance greater than a petaflop – up from 138 on the June 2017 list demonstrating the improvement in performance and availability of petascale HPC systems. 

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