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China beats China with world’s fastest supercomputer

TechCrunch TechCrunch 20/06/2016 John Mannes

The world’s previous fastest supercomputer, Tianhe-2 has been unseated by the Sunway TaihuLight. The Chinese supercomputer will be located at the National Supercomputer Center at Wuxi.

Supercomputers are frequently benchmarked with the Linpack benchmark. The Sunway TaihuLight clocks in at 93 pentaflops. The closest US competitor sits in third place at 17 pentaflops.

93 pentaflops is equivalent to 93 quadrillion floating-point operations per second (FLOP). An IPad 2 for reference can achieve about 1.6 gigaflops or 1.6 billion flops. This means the Sunway TaihuLight can execute about 58 million times more processes per second than an IPad 2.

The supercomputer was government funded and cost $270 million according to Jack Dongarra’s Report on the Sunway TaihuLight System. According to the same report, the computer’s creators took extra steps to ensure energy efficiency. The 15 Climaveneta water-cooled chillers equipped with magnetic levitation lower the facilities power consumption by 45%.

Supercomputers like the Sunway TaihuLight are often used to solve complex systems problems of non-linear dynamics. These problems can include weather projections, financial modeling, and modeling neural activity. Generally, any problem with extreme quantities of data and a sizable number of variables requires specialized computing power.

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