Home > News, technology > Tianhe-1A ranked world’s fastest super computer

Tianhe-1A ranked world’s fastest super computer

November 15th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Engineers working on Tianhe-1A

In the current edition of TOP500, Chinese made super computer Tianhe-1A (at 2.57 petaflops/second) has just overtaken the American Department of Energy’s Jaguar system (at 1.75 petaflops/second) in performance to top the current super computers world rankings list. (Here is the press release: “China Grabs Supercomputing Leadership Spot in Latest Ranking of World’s Top 500 Supercomputers.”)

This news is causing a stir in the U.S. media. Some are questioning the benchmark itself (never-mind the “gracious” acceptance of it when American made super computers topped the list). Various take on this news: China Daily, CNet, and WSJ.

The Tianhe-1A uses off the shelf Intel and nVidia processors, but the interconnect technology, “Arch”, was developed and produced in China. The interconnect is what allows information to flow from a processor to another processor at very high speed and is critical to the overall performance of the system. Tianhe-1A will be dedicated for petroleum exploration and aircraft simulation. It was developed by the National University of Defense Technology (国防科学技术大学).

The university also has an “open access” policy for this machine, which means foreign entities are allowed to lease time on this system.

The TOP500 press release went on to say:

Although the U.S. remains the leading consumer of HPC systems with 275 of the 500 systems, this number is down from 282 in June 2010. The European share – 124 systems, down from 144 — is still substantially larger than the Asian share (84 systems — up from 57). Dominant countries in Asia are China with 42 systems (up from 24), Japan with 26 systems (up from 18), and India with four systems (down from five).

Perhaps Tianhe-1A is challenging the widely held notion in the West that the Chinese cannot invent, but the important fact remains that China is still far behind in the number of such super computers deployed for research. China’s 42 systems in the TOP500 are only 15% that of the U.S.. For China’s population, we expect China to continue to climb this list.

  1. colin
    November 16th, 2010 at 16:26 | #1

    “Perhaps Tianhe-1A is challenging the widely held notion in the West that the Chinese cannot invent”

    The western masses will believe notions that are comfortable to their flawed worldview. I’ve never bought the idea that the chinese are inherently less inventive and innovative. Two points to refute this. First, the chinese till now haven’t had the need to invent or innovate. In trying to catch up technologically and economically, it was much better served simply learning and copying what the west had already invented and proven to work. When technology reaches parity, you’ll see the chinese spend more on R&D, and then the world will see a different side of the chinese. In fact, it’s already quite surprising how so many breakthroughs have already been accomplished by the chinese. Second, even if buy the argument that china’s education and political system does not produce the same caliber of innovators on average, it doesn’t matter because you only need a much smaller handful of brilliant thinkers and doers to drive massive change. These are the Steve Jobs and Robin Li’s of the world, and the key people directly beneath them. With 1+ billion people, I’m sure there are more than enough of these people who will rise to the top and drive china’s future growth.

    So basically, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  2. Chops
    November 16th, 2010 at 17:56 | #2

    The race goes on.

    The US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are both planning to launch super-computers in 2012 that will be almost eight times faster than Tianhe-1A at 20 pflops.

  3. November 16th, 2010 at 20:59 | #3

    Indeed. The race goes on. The TOP500 list is updated every 6 months. Taking the #1 spot is news, and remaining there potentially until 2012 would be more the impressive.

    @colin – yes, and with hundreds of millions freed from farming, they are all available to build railroads, bullet trains; pursue inventions, arts, or whatever.

  4. Max
    November 22nd, 2010 at 11:35 | #4

    Yes, you ain’t seen nothing yet ! I would not underestimate the inventiveness of the Chinese people in view of their technological advanced made in the past which always are hundreds and thousand of years ahead of the west in many areas. The current 10 to 20 years gap is a relatively short time for China to catch up and surpass the west. We all live in interesting time ahead.

  5. TonyP4
    November 29th, 2010 at 10:10 | #5

    Do not get too excited yet. The processors and the graphic processors are US products. However, China beats many other countries such as India by miles.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.