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By the numbers: The U.S.-China supercomputer battle

An employee of the German Climate Computing Center stands by the 'MistralÓ supercomputer in 2017.
The 'MistralÓ supercomputer in Hamburg. Photo: Morris MacMatzen/Getty

The United States took the top spot in the TOP500, a biannual ranking of the world's fastest computing systems, for the first time since 2012 with the new Summit supercomputer, but it continues to lose ground to China overall.

Why it matters: In an ever-advancing industry, the world's most powerful computers are continually growing stronger and faster — and, in the burgeoning tech war between the U.S. and China, they're a mark of a nation's technical prowess.

The world's top supercomputers, by the numbers:

  • Summit, built by IBM, secured its top position performing at 122.3 petaflops, but it could theoretically reach 200 petaflops. That means it can perform 200,000 trillion calculations each second, analyzing data to find solutions in energy, AI and human health, among other issues.
  • China's most powerful system, the Sunway TaihuLight, was ranked #2 after two years at the top of the list.
  • China has the most computers on the list — at 206 computers.
  • Even with two systems in the top five, the U.S. has just 124 computers on the list — 21 fewer than six months ago.
  • Chinese-based Lenovo made 122 of the 500 machines on the list, the most of any manufacturer. It's the first time the top high-performance computer maker has been based outside the U.S.

Go deeper: China now has more supercomputers than the U.S.

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