Chinese supercomputer tops the charts -- two years early

  • 17 June 2013
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The performance of the systems on the Top500 list continues to improve exponentially. (Note that it's a logarithmic scale on the vertical axis, with each line marking a tenfold improvement.) The three series of dots here represent the total performance of the top 500 systems at the top, the performance of the No. 1 system in the middle, and the performance of the 500th system at the bottom.
Performing more than 33 quadrillion calculations per second, a new Chinese supercomputer called Tianhe-2 arrived two years earlier than expected to claim the top spot in a list of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.
The Top500 list, updated twice a year at the International Supercomputing Conference, measures performance for mammoth systems typically used for jobs like modeling nuclear weapons explosions and forecasting global climate changes. And the Chinese machine, at the National University of Defense Technology, is more mammoth than most.
The Tianhe-2 has 32,000 Xeon processors boosted by 48,000 Xeon Phi accelerator processors for a total of 3.12 million processor cores linked together with a Chinese interconnect called TH Express-2. It's also got 1 petabyte of memory (that's about 12,500 times as much as in an ordinary personal computer), runs the university's Kylin Linux operating system, and sucks down 17.8 megawatts of power.
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