June 2012: Sequoia BlueGene/Q
In June 2012, the Sequoia BlueGene/Q became the first supercomputer to surpass 1.5 million cores. Despite the fact that it has more than twice the number of cores of the K Computer, it consumed almost half the power (7890 kW).
The system was comprised of 16-core PowerPC processors clocked at 1.6 GHz, and was the first supercomputer to exceed 20 PFlops of theoretical computational power. In practice, the system achieved 16 PFlops. The machine was installed in a national laboratory belonging to the US Department of Energy. It is also important because it marks the return of the United States to the top of the TOP500 list.
November 2012: Cray XK7 (Titan)
In November 2012, IBM was again beaten by the Cray XK7-based Titan. This system contained almost 300,000 Opteron 6274 processors and more than 260,000 K20x NVIDIA GPUs. This system marked the first time AMD would be used in the world's fastest supercomputer since the Jaguar 3.0 supercomputer that dominated the list in June 2010.
Its theoretical processing power did not surpass the BlueGene/Q, but its practical performance was rated at 17.6 Pflops, edging out the BlueGene/Q. It consumed roughly 8209 kW of power. It was installed in the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Another significant event in the top 10 super computers in November 2012 was the entry of the Xeon Phi.
June 2013: Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2)
In June 2013, China took back the lead with a supercomputer that broke several records. The Tianhe-2 exceeded 50 PFlops of theoretical computational power (54.9 PFlops). It also exceeded 33 Pflops of real world performance under Linpack, nearly double what the second place Cray XK7 was capable of.
To achieve this performance, Tianhe-2 uses approximately 3.12 million cores, breaking the record for the most CPU cores in a supercomputer. It also proved to be the most power hungry super computer, consuming in excess of 17,000 kw (17,808 kw).
Tianhe-2 is installed in the National University of Defense Technology. The system was a surprise to everyone when it began operations two years early. Each node in the Tianhe-2 is comprised of two 12-core Xeon E5-2692 processors clocked at 2.2 GHz, and three Xeon Phi 31S1P compute cards which deliver the majority of the performance. It persists as the world's fastest supercomputer today.
June 2016: Sunway TaihuLight
In June 2016, the Tianhe-2 was overtaken by China’s new Sunway TaihuLight as the world’s fastest supercomputer. Following the Tianhe-2’s development, the U.S. government restricted the sale of server-grade Intel processors in China in an attempt to give the U.S. time to build a new supercomputer capable of surpassing the Tianhe-2. As a result, China was unable to obtain significant numbers of Intel processors to upgrade the Tianhe-2 or build a successor, so instead the TaihuLight uses ShenWei RISC CPUs developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC) organization in China.
The TaihuLight contains 40,960 ShenWei SW26010 processors, one inside of each supercomputer node. Each SW26010 contains 260 cores, which results in a total of 10,649,600 cores in the TaihuLight. The supercomputer has a peak theoretical processing power of approximately 125 petaflops, and it scores 93 petaflops under Linpack, making it roughly three times faster than the Tianhe-2. It is also incredibly efficient compared to the Tianhe-2, as it consumes just 15.3 megawatts of power, a full 2.5 megawatts less than the Tianhe-2 while performing three times the work.
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