New Supercomputer Ranking Shows China Still on Top

The TOP500 ranking shows little change in the world's fastest supercomputers

2 min read
Tianhe-2 supercomputer
China's Tianhe-2 remains the world champ.
Photo: AP Images

The TOP500 supercomputer ranking, published today, shows China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer remaining at the top of the heap, with its 33.86 petaflops/s. The number-two spot also remains unchanged: Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer, which can run at 17.59 petaflops/s.

Indeed, there is little change in the top 10 positions, with only two new names appearing in that elite group, Trinity (number 6, managed and operated by Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories) and Hazel-Hen (number 8, at Höchstleistungsrechenzentrum Stuttgart). These systems were both installed in 2015, as was Saudi Arabia’s Shaheen II supcomputer, which ranks 9th. The seven other supercomputers in this grouping date from 2013 or earlier.

As you’d expect with such little turn over at the top of the list, the overall rate of growth in performance of the world’s top supercomputers has been slowing in recent years. But the summed performance of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers is still up by 55 petaflops/s over the TOP500’s June 2015 ranking.

If there’s any take-home message coming through from today’s ranking, it’s the growing dominance of Chinese supercomputers on the world’s stage. China now has 109 supercomputers in the top 500, up from just 37 in July. At the same time, the U.S. share has dropped from 231 to 200. And the European component is also down, from 141 in July to 108 now.

If China ends up using its computing behemoths to significantly advance its industrial prowess, companies in other parts of the world might well worry about the trajectory evidenced in today’s rankings. But that, of course, is a big “if.”

RANKNAMESITERMAX(TFLOPS/S)
Not much change was reported in the world's 10 most powerful supercomputers.
1Tianhe-2National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou
China
33,862.7
2TitanDOE/SC/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
United States
17,590.0
3SequoiaDOE/NNSA/LLNL
United States
17,173.2
4K computerRIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS)
Japan
10,510.0
5MiraDOE/SC/Argonne National Laboratory
United States
8,586.6
6TrinityDOE/NNSA/LANL/SNL
United States
8,100.9
7Piz DaintSwiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS)
Switzerland
6,271.0
8Hazel HenHLRS - Höchstleistungsrechenzentrum Stuttgart
Germany
5,640.2
9Shaheen IIKing Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Saudi Arabia
5,537.0
10StampedeTexas Advanced Computing Center/Univ. of Texas United States5,168.1

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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