U.S. Dominates in Total Performance on TOP500 List; China Increases Share

The newest edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers puts five U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supercomputers in the top 10 positions, with the first two captured by Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Sierra at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The 52nd edition of the list which is issued twice yearly was announced by the TOP500 news team.

Summit widened its lead as the number-one system, improving its High Performance Linpack (HPL) score from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since its debut on the previous list in June 2018. Sierra also added to its HPL result from 6 months ago, going from 71.6 to 94.6 petaflops, enough to bump it from the number three position to number two. Both are IBM-built supercomputers, powered by Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

Sierra’s rise pushed China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, into third place. Prior to last June, it had held the top position on the TOP500 list for 2 years with its HPL performance of 93.0 petaflops. TaihuLight was developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A), deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, is now in the number four position with a Linpack score of 61.4 petaflops. It was upgraded earlier this year by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), replacing the older Intel Xeon Phi accelerators with the proprietary Matrix-2000 chips.

At number five is Piz Daint, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. At 21.2 petaflops, it maintains its standing as the most powerful system in Europe. It is powered by a combination of Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs.

Also according to the list, the share of TOP500 installations in China continues to rise, with the country now claiming 227 systems (45% of the total). The number of U.S. based supercomputers continues to decline, reaching an all-time low of 109 (22% of the total). However, systems in the U.S. are, on average, more powerful, resulting in an aggregate system performance of 38%, compared to 31% for China.

Japan is third in system share, with 31 systems, followed by the UK, with 21, France with 18, Germany with 17, and Ireland with 12. All other countries have fewer than 10 systems on the list.

And, there are now 429 supercomputers on the TOP500 list that deliver over 1 petaflop on the Linpack benchmark, up from 272 systems 6 months ago. The entry point to the list is now 874.8 teraflops, with the entry point for the top 100 systems at 1.97 petaflops.

The top 10 systems manufacturers (by number of systems) are Lenovo (140), Inspur (84), Sugon (57), Cray (49), HPE (46), Bull (22), Fujitsu (15), Huawei (14), Dell EMC (13), and IBM (12), while Intel continues to provide the processors for the largest number of TOP500 systems, with a dominating 95.2% share.

And, for the first time, an ARM-powered supercomputer has made it into the TOP500 rankings. The new system, known as Astra, is an HPE-built supercomputer deployed at Sandia National Laboratories. Entering the list at number 2015, it is powered by 125,328 Cavium ThunderX2 cores and has achieved an HPL Linpack score of 1.5 petaflops.


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