November 14, 2017

UH-OH: China leads in top 500 supercomputers with 202 versus the US with 143.

Just six months ago, the US led with 169 systems, with China coming in at 160. Despite the reversal of fortunes, the 144 systems claimed by the US gives them a solid second place finish, with Japan in third place with 35, followed by Germany with 20, France with 18, and the UK with 15.

China has also overtaken the US in aggregate performance as well. The Asian superpower now claims 35.4 percent of the TOP500 flops, with the US in second place with 29.6 percent.

The original plan was to upgrade the system with the newer Knights Landing devices. But after the US government instituted an embargo on these chips to certain Chinese supercomputing sites, including the Guangzhou center, the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) had to come up with plan B. In this case, that meant developing their own coprocessor. That turned out be the Matrix-2000, a DSP-type chip, tweaked for more general-purpose computation.

According to slides presented at the forum, each Matrix-2000 will deliver 2.4576 teraflops (peak), which more than doubles the 1.0 teraflops delivered by the original Xeon Phi chip.

China’s reputation has been a fast follower rather than an innovator, but that looks like it’s changing.

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