China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer has secured the number one spot in the bi-annual TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers for the fifth consecutive time. The Tianhe-2, which translates to Milky Way-2, turned out a score of 33.86 petaflops/sec (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark, nearly twice as fast as its closest competitor.

Finishing in second place is Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This supercomputer mustered a score of 17.59 petaflops/sec on the same benchmark.

The top 10 supercomputer list remains largely unchanged since the last set of benchmarks were run. In fact, there's only one new entrant in the top 10 - the Shaheen II, a Cray XC40 system installed at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia which took the seventh place spot.

Despite finishing in second place, the US still remains the top country in terms of overall systems in the top 500 with 233 systems. That figure is down from the 265 US-based systems that were on the November 2013 list and is approaching its historical low on the list.

The supercomputer sector has exhibited a slowing trend since 2008 that's not all that different from what's unfolding in the consumer computer space. Excluding the Shaheen II, the nine other supercomputers in the top 10 were installed in 2011 or 2012 which highlights a low level of turnover.

It's worth mentioning that the TOP500 list is comprised only of publically known computers and doesn't include what's bound to be a number of "private" supercomputers used by governments around the globe.

Image courtesy Xinhau