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China's Petaflop Super Comes Up to Speed

As reported in the People’s Daily, China’s first petaflop (peak) supercomputer, Tianhe-1, is now fully installed and is running user applications 24×7. With 71,680 cores, Tianhe-1 (meaning River in Sky) is ranked at Number 7 on the TOP500 and is installed at the National Super Computer Center in Tianjin. Each node of Tianhe-1 consists of two AMD GPUs attached to two Intel Xeon processors.

The other Chinese systems in the TOP10, Nebulae, is located in Shenzhen and achieved 1.271 petaflops on Linpack, which puts it in the No. 2 spot on the TOP500 behind Jaguar. With it’s NVIDIA GPU accelerators, Nebulae reports an impressive theoretical peak of almost 3 petaflops – the highest ever on the TOP500. Together, the performance of Nebulae and Tianhe-1 were enough to catapult China in the No.2 spot of installed performance (9.2 percent) ahead of various European countries, but still clearly behind the U.S. (55.4 percent).

Now that China’s supercomputing ambitions have become clear, it will be interesting to watch what happens this November when the new TOP500 list comes out. Word is that the Tokyo Institute of Technology is gunning for number one, and Asia, at least for the time being, could leave the US National Labs playing catch-up for the first time in years.

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