Supercomputer Battle Between U.S., China Heats Up
The U.S. plans to build two supercomputers to knock China's current Top500 leader Tianhe-1A off its perch.In what may be the beginnings of a new type of Cold War-style competition between the United States and China, the two countries are locked in battle to claim the top spots on the list of the world's fastest supercomputers. The 36th edition of the Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers confirms the rumored takeover of the top spot by the Chinese Tianhe-1A system at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, achieving a performance level of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second). Of the Top 10, five are located in the United States. The U.S.-built Jaguar system, meanwhile, achieved 1.75 petaflop/s running Linpack, the TOP500 benchmark application. This was good enough for a second place finish, though it represents a fall from its top ranking based on October tests. Third place is now held by a Chinese system called Nebulae, which was also knocked down one spot from the June 2010 Top500 list with the appearance of Tianhe-1A. Tsubame 2.0 at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is number four, while California-based Hopper, a Cray XE6 system at DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, rounded out the top five.
Meanwhile, technology magazine Computerworld reported U.S. scientists are planning to build two 20-petaflop supercomputers-one from Oak Ridge National Laboratory home of the 1.75-petaflop system Jaguar, and an IBM-built supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Both systems are expected to be up and running by 2012, the magazine reported. "Personally I love [the competiton]," Jeremy Smith, director of director of the Center for Molecular Biophysics at Oak Ridge, to the publication. "In competing with other countries everybody gains and wins - that's why I'm excited about it."