China Is Becoming a Supercomputing Powerhouse
U.S. tally of world’s most powerful supercomputers is at its lowest since Top500 list began
WSJ. Nov. 16, 2015
For the past two years, the country has been home to the world’s most powerful supercomputer, the National University of Defense Technology’s Tianhe-2 machine.
… Over the past decade, companies such as Alphabet Inc. ’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. have spent billions building massive data centers that operate as supercomputers for the Internet. These systems, however, aren’t optimized for the type of calculations that the Top500 list’s benchmarks test for.
… The Top500 results are important because they serve as a shorthand way of viewing international competitiveness in computer simulations. Originally used for scientific modeling in physics and chemistry, these systems are increasingly used to simulate consumer products—everything from automobiles to diapers.
… Tianhe-2, which has been ranked the world’s most powerful supercomputer since June 2013, is capable of performing 33.86 quadrillion calculations a second. The system ranked second on the list, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan, can perform 17.59 quadrillion calculations a second.