The fastest system on the list is China's Tianhe-2

China triples its number of supercomputers

China has almost tripled its number of supercomputers in just six months according to Top500.

The body, which tracks supercomputers around the globe, compiles a list of the best performing 500 machines on a bi-annual basis.

“China is also carving out a bigger share as a manufacturer of high performance computers with multiple Chinese manufacturers becoming more active in this field,” the report states.

Conversely, the number of systems in the US has dropped to the lowest level since 1993, although the Trinity supercomputer, which is used by the country’s Department of Energy (DOE), is the highest new entry in the top ten, taking the sixth position.

For the sixth consecutive time, Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, has retained its position as the world’s number one system.

The Tianhe-2, which means Milky Way-2, led the list with a performance of 33.86 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark.

The supercomputer was developed by a team of 1,300 scientists and engineers and was originally made operational in 2013. It is used by the Chinese government for simulation, analysis and security applications.

The Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has also remained in the number two spot from the previous list.

Although the Titan achieved only 17.59 petaflop/s on the same benchmarking system as the Tianhe-2, it is considered to be one of the most energy-efficient systems on the list.

David Schibeci at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia told the BBC that the Top500 list merely demonstrates raw computing power without taking into account the value of the research undertaken.

"I'd expect ranking systems to develop a focus on how much valuable research is produced by these systems and the outcomes that benefit the world," he said.

"Nations like China have a great opportunity to take a leading role in the HPC (high-performance computing) space but it's important that they focus on research support and upskilling of staff rather than just raw numbers for the Top 500."

In August, China’s state news agency Xinhua said that the country would place export restrictions on supercomputer technology in order to protect its national security.

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