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Tianhe 1A: the fastest computer in the world

The USA have just lost the world’s fastest supercomputer title to China, with their Tianhe-1A taking over the top slot.

The Tianhe-1A has 1.4 times the power of the closest rival according to Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer scientist who maintains the offical supercomputer rankings. Although this list isn’t due until next week, Jack has said that the new Tianhe-1A ‘blows away the existing No.1 machine”. He added that is seems highly unlikely that anything will get close in time for the latest six monthly chart.

This constant race for the World’s Fastest Supercomputer is a source of pride for the competiting countries and it isn’t just for the acclaim, as these computers can be used productively to solve problems critical to national interests in the fields of science, finance and energy. We would also assume that they make for great online gaming machines.

"I wonder what will happen if I remove this?" (image nVidia)

This Chinese supercomputer is built around thousands of small computer servers made by Intel and nVidia and they are linked together by software to form a ‘single entity’. Basically any company or organisation with enough cash at hand could create something similar, however the real issue is getting the interconnect, or networking technology to handle the data between the sub systems. Not an easy thing to achieve. This technology was built by the Chinese, who have invested a lot of time and money into the project.

This new interconnect system can handle data transfer at around twice the speed of a common interconnect called InfiniBand, which is used in many other supercomputers.

We would expect the USA to step up to the challenge and retake the crown for the next chart in 6 months time.

KitGuru says: We can’t even begin to imagine the power drain under full load.

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