World’s fastest supercomputer makes debut in China

China has knocked the US off the top spot with the unveiling of a the most powerful supercomputer in the  world.

Tianhe-1A was designed by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China, and is housed at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin.

Now fully operational, it has set a new performance record of 2.507 petaflops, as measured by the LINPACK benchmark. It combines massively parallel GPUs with multi-core CPUs, and is based on 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs.

The announcement marks the end of the US’ dominance in supercomputing. The record was previously held by the AMD Opteron-based Cray XT5 Jaguar at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

As well as cutting down on size, the use of GPUs cuts the system’s power requirements dramatically. While a 2.507 petaflop system built entirely with CPUs would consume over 12MW, Tianhe-1A consumes only 4.04MW.

“The performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs,” said Guangming Liu, chief of the National Supercomputer Center. “The scientific research that is now possible with a system of this scale is almost without limits; we could not be more pleased with the results.”

The supercomputer will be used as an open access system  for large scale scientific computations.