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$31.7M investment sees NZ hang on to Top500 supercomputer ranking

An arms race for super-computing power is pitting the US against China
A Cray supercomputer being installed at NIWA's campus facility this year

A Cray supercomputer being installed at NIWA's campus facility this year

New Zealand has retained a presence on the latest Top500 ranking of global supercomputing power, but only just.

NIWA's new Maui supercomputer debuted on the list at number 321 in June, but the latest set of rankings place the country's most powerful computer in 480th spot.

A quiet arms race for computing power between the US and China is continuing, with the latest list ranking five US Department of Energy supercomputers in the top 10 positions.

A computer called Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory widened its lead as the number one system, improving its High Performance Linpack (HPL) performance from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since its debut on the list in June.

Maui, a Cray XC50, recorded 908 teraflops of performance. The computer was one of three bought this year in a six-year deal worth $31.7 million and funded by NIWA, Landcare Research, the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

Two Chinese super computers made the top 10, in third and fourth places, with Switzerland claiming the fifth spot, Japan seventh and Germany eighth.

Once New Zealand's leading supercomputer, Weta Digital's HP-based cluster in Wellington disappeared off the list in June after being recorded in 498th place last November.

Australia's top performer, a Fujitsu/Lenovo system dubbed Raijin, ranked 130th.

Last week, New Zealand opened a new facility to house two of the new supercomputers in Wellington.