Chinese experts view China-U.S. competition in supercomputer with forward-looking attitude

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-26 18:24:20|Editor: Lu Hui
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WASHINGTON, June 25 (Xinhua) -- IBM's supercomputer Summit has overtaken China's Sunway TaihuLight to become the world's fastest, with the U.S. reclaiming the number one spot.

The Top500 supercomputer list was revealed on Monday, and experts said they were not surprised that Summit won this round due to the intense competition between the United States and China in the field of supercomputers.

"It may put us under more pressure and encourage us to engage more in innovation," said Fu Haohuan, deputy director of the Chinese National Supercomputing Center based in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

"For us, what is more important is to seek development with a down-to-earth attitude," Fu added.

Summit, recently unveiled at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee State, captured the number one spot with a performance of 122.3 petaflops on high-Performance linpack (HPL), the benchmark used to rank the Top500 list, the statement said.

A petaflop is a measure of a computer's processing speed.

Shan Hongzhang, a computer scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Xinhua that the structure of Summit potentially reduced the traditional performance overhead of transferring data between the central processing unit and graphics processing unit.

Summit is designed for research in energy, advanced materials and artificial intelligence (AI).

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said Summit could have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness and national security.

Back when China was on top, supercomputer expert Qian Depei said little attention should be paid to the ranking.

"Ranking is not our ultimate goal in developing supercomputers," Qian told Xinhua at that time. "Our goal is to promote large-scale applications, solve the challenges faced by our country, and push for the progress of China's computer industry," he said.

Sunway TaihuLight, developed by China's National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Jiangsu, ranked number two after leading the list for the past two years.

Its HPL mark of 93 petaflops has remained unchanged since it came online in June 2016.

The number three spot goes to Sierra, a new system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, delivering 71.6 petaflops on HPL.

China's Tianhe-2A, developed by the National University of Defense Technology and installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou,moved down two notches to the number four spot. But a major upgrade of its hardware increased the system's performance from 33.9 petaflops to 61.4 petaflops.

The Top 500 list is considered one of the most authoritative rankings of the world's supercomputers. It is compiled on the basis of the machines' performance on the Linpack benchmark by experts from the United States and Germany.

KEY WORDS: supercomputer