Chinese Supercomputer Is Now The World's Fastest - By A Lot

Monday, June 17, 2013 |

The Tianhe-2 supercomputer. (Credit: Top500)

Every six months, the Top500 organization reveals its list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. And for the past few lists, there’s been a lot of movement. In June 2011, it was Japan’s “K” supercomputer. In June 2012, it was IBM IBM  Sequoia. In November 2012, Cray CRAY  took the lead with its Titan supercomputer. And now there’s a new fastest supercomputer – the Chinese Tianhe-2.

The Tianhe-2 was built by the National University of Defense Technology in China. It is the successor to the Tianhe-1A supercomputer, which topped the list of world’s fastest supercomputers in November of 2010. It will be deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho – two years ahead of schedule.

Tianhe-2 is built entirely with Intel INTC  processors. It contains 16,000 nodes, which each contain two Xeon IvyBridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors, for a total of 3,120,000 total processor cores. And those cores are doing the job. According to the benchmarks used by Top500, it performs a staggering 33.86 petaflop/s. That’s nearly twice as fast as Titan, which has a performance benchmark of 17.59 petaflop/s.

And just to show you how far things have come in just two and a half years, the Tianhe-1A performs at 2.56 petaflop/s. Don’t feel too bad for the old winner, thought – it’s still the 10th fastest supercomputer in the world.

Another aspect of the Tianhe-2 is that it shows how rapidly China is advancing in the world of IT. Although the processors may have come from Intel, everything else – from the design to the operating system – was developed in China.

Of course, that’s an exception as far as the list goes. As far as computer manufacturers go, IBM dominates the Top 500 list. Five of the top ten fastest supercomputers were built by IBM, as were 34 of the top 100. Cray and Fujitsu also have quite a few on the list as well. So while China may have the world’s fastest supercomputer, they still have plenty of competition.