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Bumped Down

The fastest US supercomputer has been pushed to fourth place in global rankings, according to Technology Review, adding that this is the first time since 1996 that the US hasn't been in the top three.

The latest Top500 rankings place China's Sunway TaihuLight system at the top, followed by Tianhe-2, also in China. In third place is the Swiss Piz Daint system. Upgrades to the Piz Daint knocked the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan system down to the fourth spot.

Technology Review notes that this is the second year in a row that TaihuLight has claimed the top spot, though it adds that the US still holds five of the top 10 spots. "But the news nonetheless serves to highlight America's decline as a supercomputing heavyweight," it says.

The Department of Energy recently announced that it was giving a $285 million funding boost to exascale computing, Tech Review points out. That funding is to be spread among AMD, Cray, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia, the Wall Street Journal adds.

Such an exascale system would be able to perform a quintillion calculations a second, and the US plans to have one by 2021, the Journal says. But, it notes, that's a year after China envisions having one.