US now claims world’s top two fastest supercomputers

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The US Department of Energy’s Summit supercomputer, with a recently upgraded performance score of 143.5 petaflops, has widened its lead as the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

According to the November edition of the Top500 List, Summit’s sister system Sierra also gained performance improvements to reach 94.6 petaflops and overtake the No. 2 spot from China’s Sunway TaihuLight.

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Summit, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was built for AI and is used for research in a range of fields, including high-energy physics, materials discovery and health care. In certain scientific applications, Summit is capable of more than three billion-billion mixed precision calculations per second.

Meanwhile, Sierra is a joint supercomputer project with the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL). Both Summit and Sierra are IBM-built supercomputers, powered by Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.

China held on to its supercomputer reign for two years before Summit knocked it down to second place in June. The TaihuLight now stands in third place with HPL performance of 93.0 petaflops. Fourth place goes to China’s Tianhe-2A at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, and fifth place goes to Piz Daint at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland.

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