China develops worlds fastest supercomputer, India teraflops behind
October 29, 2010

In recognition of not only its zooming economy but also its thrust towards Information technology and research and development, China on Thursday announced the launch of the world’s fastest supercomputer. Usurping America’s title, China said the new system, known as Tianhe-1A, was developed by the National University of Defense Technology and performs at a speed of 2.5 petaflops – meaning the system can make 1,000 trillion calculations per second. It uses Intel and Nvidia processors, but the system for allowing all 21,000 chips to communicate and work together is Chinese.

Using American parts, the Tianhe-1A is 1.4 times faster than the Jaguar, a system at a national laboratory at the University of Tennessee which topped the last global ranking published in June. The machine belongs to Dawning Information Industry, a company backed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, at the National Center for Supercomputing in the northern port city of Tianjin.

Zhang Yunquan of the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who compiles China’s top 100 supercomputer list, said he expected Tianhe-1A to top the next global supercomputer ranking which is due to come out next month. “Having the fastest supercomputer will give us a feeling of pride, it will be like winning gold medals at the Olympics, it will excite people,” he told the Financial Times.

The title of being the country with the fastest supercomputer is however mostly expected to be more of an ego boost for the nation which already exceeds other nations on many consumer and export charts. Like acquiring the maximum medals at the Olympics, China seems to be more content with proving to outdo the American’s in an area they are not considered as competent as the west.

China is also more keen to be in the process of developing its own software to make a completely indigenous supercomputer, rather than rely more on foreign technology. It has already build the next generation of Internet protocol – IPv6 and does excel in animation and computer hardware.

India’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai also developed the country’s latest supercomputer in August this year. Not yet as fast the Chinese supercomputer, Annapurna, can perform at peak speeds of 12 teraflops. The device is used in simulations and numerical calculations in the areas of statistical mechanics and condensed matter physics among others. India’s fastest supercomputer however is at the Computational Research Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd. in Pune, installed with a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system in 2007. The integrated this system has an indigenous innovative routing technology and could achieve 117.9 Teraflops performance in 2007,  though it is expected to be much faster now.

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