18 Feb

Amazing raw processing power

The supercomputer named Tianhe-2, or translated “Milkyway-2”, from the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou¬†China is now the #1 supercomputer in the world running at a peak 33,862.7 teraflops per second (almost 34 quadrillion operations per second) according to top500.org, using Intel Xeon processors. What is the significance of an operational number this high? Well, renowned computer scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil has said for years that if we could match the computational power of the human brain, (which was estimated at 22 quadrillion operations per second) it would just boil down to the software to replicate the functionality. While this is still speculative, it is interesting nonetheless that we may have actually surpassed the raw processing power of the human brain.

China is making huge strides in supercomputing

The $390,000,000 pricetag and the team of 1,300 scientists and technicians located in Guangzhou that made Tianhe-2 happen, hints that China is serious about supercomputing to run simulations for the scientific and defense sectors. While America and the EU still have more supercomputers in the top 500 worldwide, the trends show from 2007-2014 the US has seen a respective decline of computers in the rank of -22.9% with the EU seeing a decline of -24.3%. In the same period China has seen a respective growth of 610%.

IBM to fight for #1

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is working with IBM to release the new “Summit” supercomputer expected to be completed in 2018. With estimates of 5 times the power of the current ORNL “Titan” machine this should put it in the territory of about 90 teraflops per second processing power. This may take the prize for #1 in 2018, but we will just have to wait and see.