President Trump often laments how China is beating the U.S. on trade, but the Chinese are also beating us in another important area. A new CNET report says China has now surpassed the U.S. for the first time ever in the number of systems on the world's Top 500 list of supercomputers. On the latest Top500 list, China has 202 systems, up from 159 six months ago. The U.S. has 144 on the list, down from 169. China also has the fastest overall computer on the list.
Stephen Shankland, who wrote the piece for CNET, says China has made a major investment in computer technology. "They've had the top machine on the list for several years, and now all of that investment has paid off with the number one rank on the overall list," he tells KTRH.
Supercomputers, which are often large enough to fill buildings, have many important functions. "They can be very useful for high technology stuff," says Shankland. "For example, automobiles, aerospace or airplanes, things like that which require a lot of intensive material science, those can be something where a supercomputer is very handy."
Despite China's recent advancements in computer technology, the U.S. hasn't fallen that far behind. In fact, we may be close to surpassing the Chinese again. "Just because China has surpassed the U.S. for the top tier of supercomputers, that doesn't mean the United States is a relic...there is still quite a lot of capability in the United States," says Shankland. "It's very likely that next year, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is going to have the single fastest machine, which will move the crown back to the U.S."