Subject: My Computer is Bigger Than Yours
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Saturday, 11 April 2015 19:26:54 +0100
To: Oliver Kemp, Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

The Chinese have a supa-dupa-computer called the Tianhe-2. It is already the world’s biggest supercomputer (according to Top 500, an organisation that monitors supercomputers) and the world’s most powerful machine for the past 18 months. Even so, the Chinese wanted to upgrade it, but the USA government has said ‘No’.

The Tianhe-2 (天河-2) (‘Milky Way 2’) Supercomputer located in Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.

Are you ready for lots & lots of computer gobble-de-gook about stuff that you didn’t even know existed? Well, here we go...

The computer that I’m writing this on has a single intel ‘Pentium D’ cpu (‘central processing unit’) with 2 cores. So, just 1 cpu but it acts like there are 2 cpu in the system.

The Tianhe-2 has slightly more computing power than my home machine. It has:-

The above all looks impressive, but we then need to add in that the front-end system utilises 4,096 Galaxy FT-1500 cpu, each of which has 16 cores and a 1.8 GHz clock frequency. These alone are 144 gigaflops, 65 watts!

The Tianhe-2 was originally scheduled for completion in 2015 but actually became operational in 2013. It was immediately declared the ‘fastest supercomputer’ and, indeed, twice as fast as the number-2 supercomputer, Titan. On the HPL Linpack benchmark:

  1. Tianhe-2 (National University of Defense Technology (NUDT)): 33.86 petaflops
  2. Titan ( U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory): 17.59 petaflops

The USA houses 252 of the world’s top 500 supercomputers, whilst China hosts just 66.

This month, intel applied to the Department of Commerce for a license to export 80,000 upgraded cpu for the Tianhe-2 + three other supercomputers. The license was declined, as the NUDT computer is involved in the ‘design, development or fabrication of nuclear weapons’. However, intel has signed a deal with the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois to build the Aurora supercomputer, which is expected to have a peak performance of 180 petaflops.

Hmm. Yah boo sucks, huh?

For reference:-

Alex Kemp