Earlier this week China unveiled the world’s fastest bullet train, and today it boasts the world’s fastest supercomputer. Unveiled earlier today, the Tianhe-1A supercomputer has set a new performance record at 2.507 petaflops via 7,168 NVIDIA GPUs and 14,336 CPUs, unseating the Cray XT5 Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Labs as the world record holder.
Tianhe-1A was designed by the National University of Defense Technology in China, but like the XT5 Jaguar it will be operated as an open access system for high-powered, large scale scientific computations. Costing $88 million, Tianhe-1A weighs 155 tons and consumes 4.04 megawatts of electricity.
That sounds like a lot of power, but for what Tianhe-1A is capable of it’s actually pretty efficient. By integrating GPUs (graphic processing units) versus CPUs (central processing units, or your basic microprocessors) cuts power consumption substantially, making it three times more efficient that a CPU-only computer with the same performance (such a computer would require more than 50,000 CPUs, according to NVIDIA).
Where can China get that much power? Maybe from the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, which also reached maximum generating capacity this week. There’s no word if China plans to build a space elevator, perfect the cold fusion process, and win the World Series before the week is out, but we suspect the Chinese have people diligently working on it.