SAN JOSE, Calif. – China and graphics processors—especially from Nvidia—are on the rise in the latest list of the world's Top 500 Supercomputers. The latest lists underscores China's continued investment in high performance computing and the spread of hybrid GPU/CPU system designs.
China is second only to the U.S. with 75 of the world's Top 500 supercomputers, up from 64 on the list published six months ago. China also holds bragging rights for systems that rank as the second and fourth most powerful in the world.
The U.S. still leads by far with 263 systems on the list, up from 251. Among other leading countries Japan has 30 systems, the U.K., France and Germany have 27, 23 and 20 respectively.
"China has become a first-level consumer
and producer of high performance systems, and I believe they will continue to
support it financially while the rest of the world is experiencing tightening budgets," said Erich Strohmaier, an editor of the twice-yearly list.
"My main question is at what level they will
stabilize their efforts and if they will be content with being number two
behind the U.S.," he said.
China is "producing systems with their own processor designs--they are a force to reckon with," said Jack Dongarra, a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee who also helps compile the list.
As for graphics processors, 39 Top 500 systems now use GPUs as accelerators, up from 17 six months ago. Thirty-five of them use Nvidia chips, two use Cell processors, and two use AMD Radeon GPUs. At least three of the top five systems use a mix of CPUs and GPUs.
The trend in high-end systems comes as even mainstream PC and smartphone processors increasingly combine GPU and CPU cores in a rising tide of so-called heterogeneous architectures. GPUs are credited with handling parallel tasks faster and with less energy than general-purpose CPUs which outperform them in serial computations.
Nvidia is commanding the lion's share of the supercomputer sockets to date because the company "was the first to the market and has a good software base and marketing arm," said Dongarra.