A Chinese supercomputer has been ranked as the world’s second-fastest machine, surpassing European and Japanese systems and underscoring China’s aggressive commitment to science and technology, reports the New York Times. The Dawning Nebulae, based at the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen, China, has achieved a sustained computing speed of 1.27 petaflops—the equivalent of one thousand trillion mathematical operations a second—in the latest semiannual ranking of the world’s fastest 500 computers, which are used for scientific and engineering problems as diverse as climate simulation and automotive design. The Chinese machine is actually now ranked as the world’s fastest in terms of theoretical peak performance, but that is considered a less significant measure than the actual computing speed achieved on a standardized computing test. The world’s fastest computer remains the Cray Jaguar supercomputer, based at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Last November, it was measured at 1.75 petaflops. The United States continues to be the dominant maker of supercomputers and is the nation with the most machines in the top 500, with 282. But China appears intent on challenging American dominance. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of this year, they surpass the scientific computing power of the E.U. countries combined and have a computer system with an achieved performance to reach the No. 1 position on the top 500,” said Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee and one of the researchers who has organized the twice-yearly rankings…

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