China Dominates the Supercomputer Battle with its Tianhe–2

China Dominates the Supercomputer Battle with its Tianhe–2
Bernadine Racoma

From November 2010 to June 2011, China’s supercomputer named Tianhe-1 was considered world class and topped the list of supercomputers. But in the years that followed, it proved too difficult for China to maintain its ranking. With a remarkable comeback this year, China readily took the number one spot in the supercomputer race once more with Tianhe-2.

Tianhe–2 is now the world’s fastest supercomputer according to a team of international researchers that makes the top 500 list every June and November.

21st century technology

Tianhe–2, also known as the Milky Way-2, was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology. This awesome news was unexpected by everyone since Tianhe–2’s completion was not due until the year 2015.

Supercomputers were engineered to accomplish tasks that are not possible for humans to do given the same amount of time. These machines, designed to literally make every task easy, have peaked in the 21st century. Their use and application have become necessary and indispensable especially in government, defense, aerospace, energy and so much more.

Tianhe–2’s specifications

Linpack benchmark stated that the Tianhe–2 is made to perform at the highest levels and provide amazing outputs with the capability of operating at 33.86 petaflop/sec. In simple language, this supercomputer can make calculations at an amazing rate of 33,860 trillion calculations per second. However, theory, Tianhe–2 can perform at 54.9 petaflop/sec, the maximum capability of the machine.

One of the unique features of China’s latest supercomputer is its ability to route information all over the system. This is possible with the integration of an interconnection network specifically built for Tianhe–2. This system is also capable of handling national defense applications as well as targeted weather forecasts with the inclusion of 4,096 Galaxy FT-1500 CPUs. Putting altogether all its capabilities and Tianhe–2 no doubt performs twice faster than the second supercomputer on the list.

Top 5 supercomputers

Following China’s Tianhe–2 is Titan of the United States. Ranking in second place, Titan is estimated to have a clock speed of 17.59 petaflop/sec. It is however expected to perform at up to 27.11 petaflops/sec. Compared to the Tianhe–2, Titan is not even within the same ballpark. Next on the list is Sequoia of the US followed by K Computer of Japan and ranking fifth is Mira, another American innovation.

According to Jack Donggara, a member of the team that ranks the top 500 list of supercomputers, the US government is still far from acquiring a new supercomputer. He predicts that the earliest time for the Americans to acquire a new hi-tech and ultra fast computer is by the year 2015.

Supercomputers around the world

The United States remains the country with the largest list of supercomputers with a total of 252. China’s count has dropped from 72 to 66. Japan has a steady count of 30 while the United Kingdom is quite close at 29. France has about 23 supercomputers at hand while Germany only has 19 at the moment.

Caption: Guanzhou, location of the National Supercomputer Center

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