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Hardware, software and funding limits mean it's not easy to make the fastest computers even faster. That's too bad for the industries that rely on them.
The pace of performance increases has slowed among the world's fastest supercomputers, while China now has nearly as many as the UK, France, and Germany combined.
Tianhe-2, with 3.1 million processor cores and a lot of Chinese-build technology, is the new leader of the twice-yearly list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers.
The latest list of most-powerful computers is a bit of same old, same old. But soon, it won't be so easy to get ahead on the Top500 list by plugging in special-purpose accelerator cards.
Harnessing more than 82,000 processors on the world's fourth-ranked supercomputer, scientists run an experiment that represents 1 percent of human brain activity.
The company's graphics chips are finding a foothold in neural networks, a biology-inspired form of computing that is moving from research to commercial tasks like Google's photo recognition.