Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

China joins supercomputer elite

Jaguar Super Computer
Jaguar has taken the top slot from Roadrunner

China has become one of a handful of nations to own one of the top five supercomputers in the world.

Its Tianhe-1 computer, housed at the National Super Computer Center in Tianjin was ranked fifth on the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list.

The machine packs more than 70,000 chips and can compute 563 trillion calculations per second (teraflops).

It is used for petroleum exploration and engineering tasks such as simulating aircraft designs.

However, the fastest machine is the US-owned Jaguar supercomputer, which now boasts a speed of 1.759 petaflops.

One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

The Cray computer has more than 220,000 chips and is owned by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is used to conduct research in climate science, materials science and nuclear energy amongst other areas.

Jaguar, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US. (1.759 petaflops; 224,162 processors)
Roadrunner, Los Alamos National Laboratory, US (1.042 petaflops; 122,400 processors)
Kraken XT5, University of Tennessee, US(831.7 teraflops; 98,928 processors)
Jugene, Forschungszentrum Juelich, Germany (825.5 teraflops; 294,912 processors)
Tianhe-1, National SuperComputer Center, China (563.1 teraflops; 71,680 processors)
Source: Top 500 Supercomputers

It has taken the top slot from another US machine, nicknamed Roadrunner.

The IBM computer is owned by the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and was the first machine to push through the petaflop barrier.

It is currently able to run at 1.042 petaflops and uses the powerful "cell" chip designed for the PlayStation 3.

It is used to monitor the US nuclear stockpile, as well as conduct research into astronomy, genomics and climate change.

The Top 500 list is dominated by machines in the US, which is home to 277 of ranked systems. It has eight of the top 10 machines.

Europe has 153 systems on the list, including the world's fourth most powerful machine. The IBM BlueGene/P supercomputer at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ) in Germany is the fastest machine outside the US and is able to run at more than 800 teraflops.

The UK has the largest number of European machines on the list, with 44 systems.

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