China aims for supercomputing crown

Mike Halsey MVP
May 31, 2010
Updated • Dec 4, 2012

China has stepped up its efforts to become the supercomputing power of the world according to the BBC.  It's Nebulae machine has ranked second in the biannual top 500 supercomputer lists.

It's the first time a Chinese supercomputer has appeared in the list of the top ten fastest machines.

Top place is a US-based supercomputer known as Jaguar.  The US dominate more than 50% of the computers on the list.

The world's fastest Cray computer, the legendary supercomputing company, is owned by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and has a top speed of 1.75 Petaflops.

So what does this all mean?  1 Petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 Trillion calculations every second.

This means that this computer would be able to calculate in a single second something it would take an ordinary desktop PC 10 hours to do.  In a day it can get through as many calculations as a PC would manage, flat out, over 100 years.

China now has 24 supercomputers on the list with the faster having a speed of 1.2 Petaflops.  It's next fastest computer is less than half as quick.

To put things into perspective, the fastest machine in the UK, at the University of Edinburgh, sits far down the list at only 0.27 Petaflops.

The Chinese aren't resting on their laurels however and are already working on an even faster machine to take the top spot from the US.

Supercomputers have become more popular in recent years because of their high performance in industrial research, aircraft design and petroleum exploration.  They can also play chess.


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  1. jayminho said on June 2, 2010 at 2:14 am

    yeah yeah.. whatever, but who owns the chinese co. ?? which western corporation ??

  2. Anonymous said on May 31, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Chinese system has been among top 10 for several years. As I remember the fist time happened in 2005 or so. This is the third time that a Chinese system entered top 10.

  3. Ken said on May 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Somethings wrong with the math here.

    If the first ratio is correct (1sec : 10 hours) then the second ratio should be 1 day : 1 century (approx), not just 365x faster at 1 day : 365 days

    1. Mike Halsey said on May 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      Well spotted Ken, fixed now :) Thanks

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