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China's Sunway TaihuLight is the new world's fastest supercomputer using its own chips

A new Chinese supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, captured the number one spot on the latest TOP500 list of supercomputers released on Monday morning at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) being held in Frankfurt, Germany.  With a Linpack mark of 93 petaflops, the system outperforms the former TOP500 champ, Tianhe-2, by a factor of three. The machine is powered by a new ShenWei processor and custom interconnect, both of which were developed locally, ending any remaining speculation that China would have to rely on Western technology to compete effectively in the upper echelons of supercomputing.

 This one doesn't depend on any Western tech to crunch numbers.  

“As the first number one system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems,” Yang told TOP500 News.

The supercomputer was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC), the same organization that designed TaihuLight’s predecessor, the Sunway BlueLight system, which is installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Jinan. BlueLight is a 796-teraflop supercomputer, which was deployed in 2011. 

Top500 has declared that China's Sunway TaihuLight, a 40,960-node system powered entirely by Chinese processors (the 260-core ShenWei 26010), is the world's fastest supercomputer. And it's leading by a wide margin, too. At 93 petaflops of processing power, it's nearly three times more powerful than the previous record-setter, the 33.85-petaflop Tianhe-2.

The new system uses a custom interconnect format to link its nodes, and there's a custom Linux variant that serves as its software foundation. The technology isn't especially exotic (the interconnect is based on PCI Express), but it doesn't need to be to achieve a breakneck pace. It's even more power-efficient than Tianhe-2 at a relatively modest 15.3 megawatts of energy consumption.

The irony? As Top500 says, a 2015 US embargo may have helped TaihuLight's chances of claiming the top spot. Many expected Tianhe-2 to get an upgrade to Intel's Xeon Phi processors and push 100 petaflops, but the trade restriction prevented that from happening. The embargo also persuaded China to step up its processor development, so any successors to TaihuLight might be that much faster. Having said this, TaihuLight may solve engineering and science problems for everyone -- we're not going to knock a supercomputing breakthrough if it's useful well beyond its native soil.

TaihuLight is currently up and running at the National Supercomputing Center in the city of Wuxi, a manufacturing and technology hub, a two-hour drive west of Shanghai. The system will be used for various research and engineering work, in areas such as climate, weather & earth systems modeling, life science research, advanced manufacturing, and data analytics. Center director Prof. Dr. Guangwen Yang, will formally introduce the system on Tuesday afternoon, in a session at ISC. 

source: Top500,

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