China builds world's fastest supercomputer

BEIJING • China has built the world's fastest supercomputer using locally made microchips.

It is the first time a computer made in the country without using US technology has taken the top spot in a rankings list.

The Sunway TaihuLight machine is twice as fast as the previous No. 1, which was built in China with chips from US firm Intel, the Top500 survey of supercomputers said on its website yesterday. China also has more top-ranked supercomputers than the US for the first time since the survey began, with 167 compared with 165.

Located in China's national supercomputer centre in the eastern city of Wuxi, the Sunway TaihuLight will be used for climate modelling and life science research. Its performance ends "speculation that China would have to rely on Western technology to compete effectively in the upper echelons of supercomputing", the survey's website said.

The supercomputers on the Top500 list, which is produced twice a year, are rated based on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US. Of the top 10 fastest computers, two are in China, and four in the US, the ranking said. Others are in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

China has poured big money into big-ticket science and technology projects as it seeks to become a high-tech leader. It plans to open the world's largest radio telescope in south-eastern China this year, state media reported. But despite some gains, the country's scientific output still lags behind its rivals, and its universities tend to fare poorly in global rankings.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'China builds world's fastest supercomputer'. Print Edition | Subscribe