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Supercomputer Title Expected to Pass to China
China’s impending pre-eminence has set off some doomsday talk about America’s economic future and security

Although it won't be official until the Top 500 list comes out in November, but it looks like the fastest computer in the world at the moment by Linpack benchmarks is a 2.5 petaflops (theoretically 4.7 petaflops) beast called Tianhe-1A built by the Chinese out of 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 Intel processors.

The U.S. currently holds the number one spot with a 1.75 petaflops machine called Jaguar and has only lost the title once and then briefly a few years ago to Japan.

China's impending pre-eminence has set off some doomsday talk about America's economic future and security.

Although the Chinese used American chips the proprietary interconnect is their own invention and can reportedly handle data twice as fast as an InfiniBand interconnect. They are also working on multi-core chips to replace Intel. Tianhe-1A is also reportedly part of a multi-year Chinese strategy to develop machines that give it commercial and military dominance.

Nvidia preens that if the thing had been built entirely out of Intel chips it would have needed 50,000 processors, twice the floor space and 12 megawatts to run, but using GPUs the Chinese cut power consumption to 4.04 megawatts making it three times more power efficient.

Nvidia says the rack server system, designed by China's National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), is housed at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin and is fully operational. It's supposed to be used as an open access system available to other countries for large-scale scientific computations. It still has to prove it's good at that job.

GPUs now power two of the three fastest computers in the world. In the last semi-annual Top 500 list China got second place

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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