China has built the world’s fastest supercomputer – almost twice as fast as the previous U.S. record holder – with speeds equivalent to more than 338 million normal PCs.
The Tianhe-2, which means Milky Way 2, was developed by the National University of Defense Technology in China’s Changsha city and is capable of sustained computing of 33.86 petaflops per second.
That’s the equivalent of 33,860 trillion calculations per second, with the average everyday computer performing around 100 million per second (although some are faster and others may be slower).
THE WORLD’S FASTEST SUPERCOMPUTERS
1. Tianhe-2 – China
2. Titan – U.S.
3. Sequoia – U.S.
4. K computer – Japan
5. Mira – U.S.
6. Stampede – U.S.
7. Juqueen – Germany
8. Vulcan – U.S.
9. SuperMuc – Germany
10. Tianhe-1A – China
The results were published in the TOP500 report, an official bi-annual listing of the world’s faster supercomputers.
According to this list, the U.S, dominates the top ten with computers in second, third, fifth, sixth and eighth place.
Japan’s K computer is in fourth spot.
Germany’s Juqueen and SuperMuc are in seventh and ninth place, while Tianhe-2’s predecessor, Tianhe-1A, is tenth.
The Tianhe-1A was first in November 2010 and Japan’s K computer overtook in 2011.
Each computer on the list was tested against the Linpack benchmark.
The Linpack Benchmark is used as a ‘yardstick of performance’ and was chosen because it is widely used across all relevant systems.
According to Linpack, the Tianhe-2 operates at 33.86 petaflop/sec – the equivalent of 33,860 trillion calculations per second.
This benchmark measures how the computers would perform in real-world environments, yet if the supercomputer was boosted to peak performance, this could theoretically increase to 54.9 petaflop/sec – 54,900 trillion calculations.
It knocked the U.S. Department of Energy’s Titan machine off the number one spot, which only achieved 17.59 petaflops per second.
The Chinese government sponsored the project and didn’t expect the computer to be fully functional until 2015.
It said it intends to install the equipment at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou where it will be used for ‘research and education’.
‘Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part,’ said TOP500 editor Jack Dongarra
‘That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese,’ said Dongarra, who toured the Tianhe-2 development facility in May.
The twice-yearly list is overseen by Hans Meuer, professor of computer science at the University of Mannheim and this current list was published to coincide with the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany.
Last month, technology company IBM announced it was putting its own supercomputer called Watson to work in a robot call centre.
The artificially intelligent computer system is taking on the role of customer service manager and will be called Watson Engagement Advisor.
Companies will be able to sign up to IBM’s service and its customers can then ring a helpline and complain or get help from the Question Answering (QA) machine.
Watson has previously taken part in American quiz show Jeopardy, and has helped medical research teams diagnose illnesses in patients.
Attribution: Victoria Woollaston, Mail Online