There is a New World’s Fastest Supercomputer…and it is all Chinese

With over 10 million CPUs, the Taihu Light isn’t just the world’s fastest computer many times over, it’s also one of the most energy efficient supercomputers ever.

For three years, China had the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe 2. But now there’s a new supercomputer, three times as powerful, but using even less power.

Layout

The Taihu Light has three sections; a central network node to manage and coordinate operations in the 40,960 computing modules, which are located in the two computing banks.

That new supercomputer is the Sunway TaihuLight, which has 10,649,600 central processing units (CPU), to achieve a processing speed of 93 petaflops; that’s 93 quadrillion calculations a second, or 2 million laptop computers. Built by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology, the Sunway Taihulgiht is operated at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China.

Shenwei CPU SW20610© Provided by Popular Science Shenwei CPU SW20610

All Made in China

The Shenwei SW20610 has 260 of these 1.45Ghz CPUs, which are all completely designed and made in China.

The Sunway TaihuLight’s 40,960 Shenwei SW26010 computing modules each contain 260 1.45Ghz CPU, which are all entirely designed and made in China. In contrast, the Tianhe 2 used Intel Xeon Phi cores for its processors (the ShenWei can thank a bit of its success to a US government ban on further Xeon core sales to China that was supposed to halt Chinese supercomputing).

Sunway Taihu Light Supercomputer China© Provided by Popular Science Sunway Taihu Light Supercomputer China

Quadrillions a Second

The Sunway Taihu Light is already the world’s most powerful computer, but is expected to be upgraded with a 33% increase in processing power to over 120 petaflops in several years.

The TaihuLight unparalleled processing power can be used to model and test climate change models, neural imaging and simulation, aerodynamics, fusion research, big data analysis and material sciences. Militarily, it could help with simulating nuclear weapons testing, hypersonic engines and cracking enemy encryption.

China Supercomputer Tianhe 2© Provided by Popular Science China Supercomputer Tianhe 2

Tianhe 2 Corridor

A look down one of the corridors in the giant room housing the Tianhe 2, which has a processing power of 33.86 petaflops (double that of its nearest competitor, the Oak Ridge Lab’s Titan). But now it’s been supplanted by the Sunway TaihuLight, which itself will be beaten in 2020, when China debuts the world’s first exoscale (that’s 1,000 quadrillion calculations per second) supercomputer in 2020.

Supercomputing is key part of the Chinese government;s plan shift to an innovation driven society. China hopes to finish an “exascale”1000 petaflop supercomputer in 2020, China already has the world’s largest installed supercomputing capacity at 211 petaflops out of a global installed capacity of 566.7 petaflops.

China also has 167 of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, according to the globally recognized TOP500 list.

Besides the direct application of the technology, the innovations, experience, and engineering capabilities used to design and build supercomputers are likely to be applied to other areas of Chinese electronics, including in the consumer, industrial, scientific, and military sectors.

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