Chinese Computer Takes Supercomputer Crown : The Two-Way The Tianhe-1A reaches 2.5 petaflops, blowing away the last fastest computer in the world. Building supercomputers is being cast as just the latest field of competition between China and the US.
NPR logo Chinese Computer Takes Supercomputer Crown

Chinese Computer Takes Supercomputer Crown

The fastest computer in the world. nVidia hide caption

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Today in China the Tianhe-1A was unveiled. It is a supercomputer that can reach 2.5 petaflops. Trust me, that is really, really fast. The cool bit about supercomputers today is that they're made out of ordinary, lesser computers. This one was constructed out of Intel and nVidia chips. The trick, apparently, is how you link all those processors together. This one was 40% faster than the last fastest computer that was built at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From the WSJ:

"I don't know of another system that is going to be anywhere near the performance and the power of this machine" in China, said Jack Dongarra, a supercomputer expert on the Oak Ridge research staff who is a professor at the University of Tennessee and recently inspected the system in Tianjin last week. "It is quite impressive."

But what's fascinating is that this technological breakthrough is being seen not only as an achievement, but as a sure sign the world is ending and America is doomed. It's like the space race, kinda, but with cooler games.

Just a sample from the NYT:

“What is scary about this is that the U.S. dominance in high-performance computing is at risk,” said Wu-chun Feng, a supercomputing expert and professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. “One could argue that this hits the foundation of our economic future.”

No one, of course, brings up the real danger: Skynet.

Next week is when the rankings of the top 500 supercomputers come out, and the Tianhe-1A is expected to top the list.