China Unveils World's Fastest Supercomputer
China has introduced the world's fastest supercomputer, asserting itself as a global technology power. The creation of the machine called Tianhe-1A thus supplants the U.S. as the creator of the most powerful machine.
Tianhe, which means "milky way," was created at a research center at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Tianjin, China. According to a New York Times report, the machine is 1.4 times faster than Cray XT5 Jaguar, the now second fastest supercomputer that is housed at a Tennessee national lab.
The system weighs 155 tons and has 103 cabinets that cover 1,000 square meters. Tianhe-1A's record speed is reached using 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs and 7,168 Nvidia Tesla GPUs.
NUDT said that the computer's peak performance can hit 1.206 petaflops and runs at 563.1 teraflops using the Linpack benchmark developed by University of Tennessee computer scientist Jack Dongarra. Nvidia, however, said the machine set a new performance record of 2.507 petaflops.
To put that kind of power in perspective, Tianhe-1A can do in one day what a basic dual-core PC would take 160 years to achieve working continuously, NUDT said.
Created by 200 computer scientists over two years, Tianhe-1A cost $88 million and consumes 4.04 megawatts of electricity. NUDT said it will be used "to process seismic data for oil exploration, conduct biomedical computing, and [to] help design aerospace vehicles."
Officials from NUDT unveiled the lightning-fast machine Thursday at the Annual Meeting of National High Performance Computing in Beijing. Its release is especially timely. The official list of the world's top 500 supercomputers is released every six months, and it's set to be published next month. Dongorra told the Times that China's computer "blows away the existing number one machine."
The U.S. was unseated from the spot briefly in 2002 when Japan presented a "machine with more horsepower than the top 20 American computers combined," the Times report said. Until now, the U.S. was the top dog after reclaiming the number one rank in 2004.
The June 2010 top 500 list includes 291 U.S. machines, 145 from Europe, and 49 from Asia, NUDT said. Twenty of these machines are from China while U.S. supercomputers comprise the top 10.