A Chinese supercomputer - the Tianhe-2 - has leapt to the top of the latest Top 500 List, which tracks the fastest supercomputers in the world.
The Tianhe-2 (or "Milky Way-2"), which became fully operational two years ahead of schedule, clocks in at an astounding 33.86 petaflops per second. A petaflop is one trillion calculations. The Tianhe-2 is over 20 billion times as fast as the first supercomputer ever built, the CDC 6600, which was created in 1964
Tianhe-2 is nearly twice as fast as the Titan, a Cray XK7 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennesee. The Titan, which has enjoyed the top spot on the list for some time, now moves into second place. The third place computer, dubbed Sequoia, is installed in at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and runs at 17.17 petaflops per second. In fourth place is Fujitsu's K Computer, which runs at 10.59 petaflops per second and can be found at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan.
The Tianhe-2 has 3.12 million processor cores. It was designed and built by the National University of Defense Technology, which is run by the Chinese government. Now that it is online, the computer is reportedly bound for the National Supercomputer Center, which is in Guangzhou in the Guandong province.
The Top 500 list is, as the name suggests, a list of the top 500 most powerful supercomputers on the planet. The list is compiled twice a year by Professor Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim in Germany, Professor Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennesee, Knoxville, and Erich Stromaier and Horst Simon of the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory.
As with previous lists, the United States dominates the field in terms of the sheer number of systems. There are 252 American supercomputers on the list, up from 250 on the previous list. China has 66 systems on the list (down from 72), and Japan has 30 (down from 32). The UK has 29 systems on the list, France has 23, and Germany has 19. The remaining 81 systems are scattered in countries throughout Europe and Asia.