China now has more of the world’s most powerful computer systems than any other country, replacing the U.S as the dominant nation on the list of the planet’s 500 fastest supercomputers.
Six months ago the U.S. logged 169 supercomputers among the fastest 500. That’s ten more than the 159 China had at the time. But according to a report published on technology site CNET Monday, China’s share of the list has swollen to 202, while the U.S.’s has plunged to 144.
Gigantic machines that take up entire rooms, supercomputers can crunch far more data than their quotidian counterparts. Their applications range from building maps of the universe, to projecting the global impact of climate change, to simulating a nuclear explosions.
Two Chinese computers — the Sunway TaihuLight at China’s National Supercomputing Center and the Tianhe-2 at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho — hold the number one and number two spots on the world’s fastest list, respectively.
But there is some good news for the U.S., though. In August, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory began installing IBM’s Summit, which has double the performance power of the Sunway TaihuLight. It is projected to become available to Department of Energy researchers next February.