(Image Source: Nvidia)

 

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

 

A Chinese supercomputer is expected to take the top spot on the Top 500 list of the world’s fastest computers. China’s Tianhe-1A clocked in at 2.5 petaflops. In a single second, this computer can perform more calculations than the chip in your Playstation 3 can in three hours.

 

China’s success means the U.S. will lose the the crown for the first time since 2004. Virginia Tech computer expert Wu-chun Feng tells The New York Times what getting knocked off the pedestal means.

 

“What is scary about this is that the U.S. dominance in high-performance computing is at risk. One could argue that this hits the foundation of our economic future.”

 

But the Chinese didn’t build the computer on their own. They combined more than twenty thousand processors made by American companies Intel and Nvidia. Don Clark of the Wall Street Journal explains what makes the Chinese system unique.

 

“The real secret sauce in a supercomputer which makes it different from the racks of servers in a commercial data center is the interconnect, the thing which connects all the chips together. Cray Research, for instance, has a proprietary interconnect. It turns out the Chinese did build their own interconnect here, so that is a key piece of technology that is homegrown in China.”

 

University of Tennessee computer scientist Jack Dongarra maintains the Top 500 list, and saw China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer for himself. He told CNET News:

 

“I saw the machine. I saw the output. It's the real thing. ... This is a wake-up call. We need to realize that other countries are capable of doing this. We're losing an advantage.”

 

While China will almost certainly take the top spot when the list comes out in early November, it’s hard to hold onto a record in the supercomputing world. NPR reports that several supercomputers will challenge the Tianhe-1A in the next few years.

 

“Now, beating the previous record-holder by 40 percent may seem impressive, but the new supercomputer may not stay on top for long. Dongarra says he knows of five supercomputers now being built that are supposed to be four times more powerful than China's new machine. Three are in the U.S.; two are in Japan.”

 

And while having a fast computer is all well and good, it doesn't make China the supercomputing champion. The U.S. still claims half of the Top 500 list, and Edinburgh University’s Arthur Trew reminds us in the Guardian that it’s how it’s used that counts.

 

“They are showing off with big machines – fine. It's the underlying message that is important. ... Having the computer is only half the battle. You have to use it, use it sensibly, and actually produce results.”

China Unveils World's Fastest Supercomputer

by Steven Sparkman
0
Transcript
Oct 29, 2010

China Unveils World's Fastest Supercomputer

(Image Source: Nvidia)

 

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

 

A Chinese supercomputer is expected to take the top spot on the Top 500 list of the world’s fastest computers. China’s Tianhe-1A clocked in at 2.5 petaflops. In a single second, this computer can perform more calculations than the chip in your Playstation 3 can in three hours.

 

China’s success means the U.S. will lose the the crown for the first time since 2004. Virginia Tech computer expert Wu-chun Feng tells The New York Times what getting knocked off the pedestal means.

 

“What is scary about this is that the U.S. dominance in high-performance computing is at risk. One could argue that this hits the foundation of our economic future.”

 

But the Chinese didn’t build the computer on their own. They combined more than twenty thousand processors made by American companies Intel and Nvidia. Don Clark of the Wall Street Journal explains what makes the Chinese system unique.

 

“The real secret sauce in a supercomputer which makes it different from the racks of servers in a commercial data center is the interconnect, the thing which connects all the chips together. Cray Research, for instance, has a proprietary interconnect. It turns out the Chinese did build their own interconnect here, so that is a key piece of technology that is homegrown in China.”

 

University of Tennessee computer scientist Jack Dongarra maintains the Top 500 list, and saw China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer for himself. He told CNET News:

 

“I saw the machine. I saw the output. It's the real thing. ... This is a wake-up call. We need to realize that other countries are capable of doing this. We're losing an advantage.”

 

While China will almost certainly take the top spot when the list comes out in early November, it’s hard to hold onto a record in the supercomputing world. NPR reports that several supercomputers will challenge the Tianhe-1A in the next few years.

 

“Now, beating the previous record-holder by 40 percent may seem impressive, but the new supercomputer may not stay on top for long. Dongarra says he knows of five supercomputers now being built that are supposed to be four times more powerful than China's new machine. Three are in the U.S.; two are in Japan.”

 

And while having a fast computer is all well and good, it doesn't make China the supercomputing champion. The U.S. still claims half of the Top 500 list, and Edinburgh University’s Arthur Trew reminds us in the Guardian that it’s how it’s used that counts.

 

“They are showing off with big machines – fine. It's the underlying message that is important. ... Having the computer is only half the battle. You have to use it, use it sensibly, and actually produce results.”

View More
Comments
Newsy
www3