Calculation's what you need as Chinese supercomputer shatters speed records

Calculation's what you need if you want to be a record breaker -- 2,507 trillion calculations every second, to be precise, which is how many sums the newly crowned world's fastest supercomputer can do.

Calculation's what you need if you want to be a record breaker, as Roy Castle never said. 2,507 trillion calculations every second, to be precise, which is how many sums China's Tianhe-1A can handle, earning it the title of world's fastest supercomputer.

The supercomputer, located in Tianjin, near Beijing, manages 2.507 trillion floating point operations per second, or petaflops. That makes it 1.4 times faster than the previous supercomputing speedster, the Cray XT5 Jaguar in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with its paltry 1.75 petaflops.

Jack Dongarra, the Norris McWhirter of the supercomputer world, compiles the list of the top 500 supercomputers and visited Tianhe-1A to confirm the numbers. We imagine white-coated backroom boffins huddling around the laptop when the results are announced, like pop bands listening to the hit parade.

Competition for second place will no doubt be fierce, with the Cray XT5 Jaguar locked in a Chinese/US battle against the previous runner-up, a computer called Nebulae from the Chinese technology hub Shenzhen.

Tianhe-1A was built by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and uses US-built chips from Intel and Nvidia. It reportedly packs 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs and eats 4.04 Megawatts of juice. It's currently used to crunch mind-bogglngly complex weather and oil data calculations, as well as some kick-botty LAN games of CounterStrike.

To the best of our knowledge, Tianhe-1A has never been brought to its knees by a bit of baguette like the Large Hadron Collider . With that kind of computing oomph, heck help us if it ever turns evil.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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