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China Trounces US on Top500 Supercomputer List

China has reached another supercomputing milestone. The country now has more machines than the US on the Top500 list for world's fastest supercomputers: 202 versus 143.

China has never had so many supercomputers on the list before; the US is also at its lowest level since the Top500 rankings began 25 years ago.

The world's fastest supercomputers used to be all largely based in the US. But a Chinese machine grabbed the No. 1 ranking for the first time in 2010. Since 2013, the country has consistently held that No. 1 ranking, which now goes to the Sunway TaihuLight based in Wuxi, China. That computer's processing power can reach 93 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point calculations per second), over twice as many as the second fastest supercomputer, another Chinese-developed system called Tianhe-2.

In contrast, the US's fastest supercomputer, the Titan, is No. 5 on the list with a speed of 17.5 petaflops.

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The US's diminished presence on the Top500 list has sparked worries that the country is falling behind in supercomputing at time when China is bolstering its own tech ambitions. Three years ago, the US had 231 systems on the Top500 list.

But even as China dominates the rankings, the technology inside the Chinese computers is still largely reliant on chips from US vendors Intel and Nvidia. US vendor Hewlett Packard Enterprise also leads on the Top500 list as the biggest provider of installed supercomputing systems.

Nevertheless, China is catching up in those areas, too. The country's Sunway TaihuLight machine—the world's fastest supercomputer since last year—was built with homegrown chips. Chinese vendor Lenovo also ranks second behind Hewlett Packard Enterprise for provider of most installed supercomputers on Top500 list.

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