TOP500 supercomputer ranking: Tides are turning but top 10 remain unchanged
By Gong Zhe
VCG Photo

VCG Photo

The November 2019 version of TOP 500 supercomputer ranking has been released on Monday with the top 10 list remaining unchanged from the previous half year.

"Summit" and "Sierra," the two U.S. machines build on IBM's POWER9 chips, are still dominating the list.

China's self-developed "Sunway TaihuLight" and the "Tianhe-2A" built with Intel Xeon chips followed closely behind.

Geographically, the two countries are "maintaining their dominance of the list," said TOP500 on its website.

Getting even faster

The seemingly stable list may meet dramatic changes in the near future, as the new "exascale computing" trend hitting the market by 2020.

Exascale computers can do calculations a quintillion (a billion billion) times a second, which is more than six times faster than the current top score.

China and the U.S. are competing in this new area. China's three big supercomputer brands, namely Tianhe, Sunway and Sugon, are all building their own models while the U.S. is also preparing three machines including "Frontier," "Aurora" and "El Capitan."

Although the Chinese own some amazing machines, they have been aware that most of these supercomputer are based on Intel chips and the domestically-made "Sunway" chips are still maturing.

EU, Japan, India and other countries are also trying to build exascale computers.

Quantum challengers

Another big challenger in the supercomputer world is completely different from its electronic predecessors.

Quantum computing is slowly getting real. Although Google's "quantum supremacy" demo machine is under fire from IBM, the potential of quantum computing is recognized by almost everyone.

There are a lot of functions that a quantum computer can do in seconds that take electronics ones years. There are also jobs that can only be done with a quantum machine like breaking the current encryption methods.

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