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China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer is world's most powerful

Chinese Tianhe-2 system beats US to take lead on TOP500 list

The Tianhe-2 system is now the most powerful supercomputer in the world.
The Tianhe-2 system is now the most powerful supercomputer in the world.

China's Tianhe-2 has overtaken the US Titan system to become the most powerful supercomputer in the world, according to the latest list from the TOP500 organisation.

Tianhe-2, meaning Milky Way, ranked highest on the Linpack benchmark, running at 33.86 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second), to take the top slot on the list.

The system regains the top slot for China, which has not led the list since November 2010 when its predecessor Tianhe-1A was first. Tianhe-2 was a surprise entrant to the list, because it was not expected to be fully deployed for another two years. The system will be rolled out at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, where it will be used for research and education.

Tianhe-2 has 16,000 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon IvyBridge processors and three Xeon Phi co-processors for a combined total of 3,120,000 computing cores. In common with the US Department of Energy's Titan, Tianhe-2 combines CPUs and graphics co-processors to boost performance.

The system was sponsored by the Chinese government's 863 High Technology Programme, which aims to make China's high tech industry less dependent on foreign technology, and large parts of the system are unique to China, according to TOP500 Editor Jack Dongarra.

"Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part. That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese," Dongarra said.

Four supercomputers in Saudi Arabia ranked on the June 2013 edition of the list, including Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology's (KACST) ‘SANAM' systems, which stayed at 52nd place on the list. The system, from Adtech, uses Intel Xeon E5 with AMD FirePro GPUs, and ranked at 532.6 Teraflops/s maximum performance.

Saudi Aramco had two systems on the list, including new entrant ‘Makman', an IBM system which placed 60th on the list with a peak performance of 441.8 Teraflops/s and its Dell PowerEdge cluster, which was 419th, running at 107.2 Teraflops/s.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) IBM Blue Gene/P system was 164th, with a performance rating of 190.9 Teraflops/s.