/// China Retakes Supercomputing Crown With a Lot of American Chips

June 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital


The latest edition of the Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers is out today, and a machine in China has retaken the crown from the United States. The machine is nicknamed Milky Way 2, but is formally known as Tianhe-2, (the word translates literally as “Sky River”) and was built at China’s National University of Defense Technology. In taking the top spot, it knocked Titan, a machine built at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee off its perch. Now before any of you reading in the U.S. get all bummed about the decline of American technical superiority, consider this: Its main computing engine was made in America. Tianhe-2 has 16,000 nodes, each containing two Intel-made Xeon IvyBridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors, bringing the total number of computing cores to 3.12 million. Its total performance is 33.86 petaflops, which means it can conduct 33.86 quadrillion calculations per second. I’ll write that number out so you can see all the zeros: 33,860,000,000,000,000. That’s almost twice — but not quite — as powerful as Titan, which can do 17.59 petaflops. Titan runs on 560,640 processors, of which 261,632 are Nvidia-made accelerators. The rest are Opteron chips made by Advanced Micro Devices. This is the second time that a Chinese machine has topped the list, which is updated twice a year. The first was in 2010, when the Tianhe-1A system at China’s National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin took the crown and did so with a relatively quaint — by today’s standard — of 2.57 petaflops. China’s dominance was short-lived the first time around: Japan nabbed the title with a Fujitsu-made machine in late 2011

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China Retakes Supercomputing Crown With a Lot of American Chips


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