China Reclaims 'World's Fastest Supercomputer' Title With Tianhe-2
June 17, 2013

China Reclaims ‘World’s Fastest Supercomputer’ Title With Tianhe-2

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Chinese researchers have developed the world's fastest computer system capable of operating as fast as 33.86 petaflops per second.

Tianhe-2, developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, overtook the former champion Titan, which was built by the United States. Titan is installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and now ranks number two with a performance of 17.59 petaflops per second.

TOP500, a project that ranks the 500 most powerful computer systems in the world, has now given the title back to Chinese researchers.

Tianhe-2 has 3.1 million cores, 32,000 multicore Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge chips and 48,000 Xeon Phi co-processors. It is a 24-megawatt system that cost about $290 million and runs more than twice as fast as any supercomputer in the US.

Horst Simon, editor of TOP500 and deputy director of the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), said Tianhe-2 is "a great accomplishment" for China.

Simon told Xinhua that the Tianhe-2 demonstrates that China can build a large system with a string component of domestically developed technology and shows China's strong technology investments in high-performance computing (HPC).

"The US continues to be the leading country in HPC, but the gap is closing," Simon told the Chinese news agency.

The US is the leader in supercomputing systems, taking up more than half of the entries in the list. China holds 65 entries on the list, followed by Japan, Britain, France and Germany.

"There are many potentially big changes ahead, as many countries continue to industrialize and then recognize the value of HPC," Simon told Xinhua.

Titan first debuted in October of last year with speeds 10 times faster than ORNL's previous Jaguar supercomputer. The supercomputer runs about 200 refrigerator sized-units in an area the size of a basketball court. Titan helps conduct research on climate change, efficient engines, energy and more.

China took the top spot for the world's fastest computer in 2010 when it unleashed its Tianhe-1. It contained 103 refrigerator-size cabinets that took up an area measuring 3,200 square feet. The US Sequoia BlueGene/Q System was able to take reign as the world's fastest supercomputer in January 2012. This computer sustained 16.32 petaflops per second, but it was later beat out by Titan.

Tianhe-2 brings the world's fastest supercomputer title back to China and it could be holding on to that record for quite some time considering the difference in speed between Tianhe-2 and Titan is nearly double.