China’s Tianhe-2 ranked world’s fastest supercomputer

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Tianhe China
The beastly Tianhe-2 supercomputer.

Twice a year, the International Supercomputing Conference makes a list of the fastest supercomputers on the planet, called the Top500 List. This year, Chinese computer “Tianhe-2” emerged as the world’s best calculating device, and it’s nearly twice as fast as the second place winner.

Part of the reason this computer is so swift is because of its large number of computer processors – the “brain” units that send control signals to the rest of the computer. The Tianhe-2 comes equipped with 32,000 Xeon processors and 48,000 Xeon Phi accelerator processors for a grand total of 3.12 million processor cores linked together!

All these connections allow for ultra-quick calculations. You know how it can take several minutes to do one math problem sometimes, scrunching your nose in confusion and scribbling down all those numbers? Well, the Tianhe-2 has a sustained performance of 33.86 petaflops per second, which means it can do 33.86 quadrillion mathematical calculations every second! Can you imagine how convenient that would be for acing a math test?

Those speeds are almost twice as fast as the second computer on the list – the “Titan” at Oak Ridge National Laboratory – which clocks in at 17.59 petaflops. Third place went to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s supercomputer “Sequoia,” which has a speed of 17.17 petaflops. Japan’s “K computer,” which was once the fastest supercomputer in the world, now sits at the number four slot. Finally, “Mira” from Argonne National Laboratory rounds out number 5 on the top five supercomputers in the whole world.

If the number one computer continues to get faster, it might even be able to reach a performance of 1 exaflop – or a quintillion mathematical calculations every second – by the year 2018.

Featured image courtesy of Sun Yat-Sen University. Image of purplish Tianhe-2 courtesy of Top500.