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China is the World’s Supercomputer Superpower


US’s best supercomputer Titan is only the world’s fifth when it comes to speed (via Wikimedia)

China has surpassed the Unites States and become the country with most supercomputers in the world.

Out of the 500 fastest mainframes on the planet, China now owns 202, well ahead of the United States’ 143 and Japan’s 35 systems,  a Top500 survey revealed.

A previous survey published just five month ago in June had found that the US owned 169 of the fastest supercomputers on Earth, with a nine-unit lead on China, who owned 160.

China has now pulled ahead thanks to its burgeoning investment in research and the developments: it has been recently calculated that 20 percent of the money poured into R&D worldwide is spent in China.

China also owns the most powerful supercomputer in absolute terms: Sunway TaihuLight, which at 93 petaflops (a FLOP is  measures how many operations a computer can carry out per second) is the world’s quickest. By comparison, the US’s best supercomputer, Titan, is the world’s fifth  at only 17.6 petaflops.


China is not only the country with most supercomputers on Earth. It also boasts the world’s fastest supercomputer—Sunway Taihulight (via

Supercomputers are regarded as key for cracking some complex problems that require calculation-heavy tasks, such as climate change studies, nuclear weapon research, weather forecasting, and DNA sequencing.

Speaking to the BBC, Top500 cofounder Erich Strohmaier explained that many of Beijing’s supercomputers are devoted to for-profit activities, as their formidable processing power is rented out to both Chinese and international companies .

“At the very high end – the systems in the top 10 – those are there for two reasons,” he said.

“One is simply the prestige attached with [being in the lead] in a market that used to be a prime example of US technology dominance. The other is to do with scientific exploration and national security – a lot of these systems are used for calculations related to weapons systems.”



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