Saturday, May 15, 2021

China Set to Unveil Record-Breaking Supercomputer

The world’s fastest supercomputer race is heating up again, with China reportedly working on a behemoth that will perform 54.9 petaFLOPS. Over the weekend, Dr. Jack Dongarra from Oak Ridge National Lab made public a draft report that provides some details about the system, called the Tianhe-2. (Tianhe is Chinese for “Milky Way.”)

Computerworld’s Patrick Thibodeau reported, “China has produced a supercomputer capable of 54.9 petaflops, more than twice the speed of any system in the U.S., according to a U.S. researcher who was in China last week and learned the details. China’s latest system was built with Intel chips, but includes indigenously produced Chinese technologies as well. The Chinese government spent about $290 million on it.”

HPCWire’s Nicole Hemsoth noted, “The 16,000-node Inspur-built Tianhe-2 is based on Ivy Bridge (32,000 sockets) and 48,000 Xeon Phi boards, meaning a total of 3,120,000 cores. Each of the nodes sports 2 Ivy Bridge sockets and 3 Phi boards.”

In his report (PDF), Dongarra wrote, “I was sent results showing a run of HPL benchmark using 14,336 nodes, that run was made using 50 GB of the memory of each node and achieved 30.65 petaflops out of a theoretical peak of 49.19 petaflops, or an efficiency of 62.3% of theoretical peak performance taking a little over 5 hours to complete. The fastest result shown was using 90% of the machine. They are expecting to make improvements and increase the number of nodes used in the test.”

According to Top500’s most recent listing of supercomputers, “Advanced reports that Oak Ridge National Laboratory was fielding the world’s fastest supercomputer were proven correct when the 40th edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 List of the world’s top supercomputers was released today (Nov. 12, 2012). Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at Oak Ridge, achieved 17.59 Petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. Titan has 560,640 processors, including 261,632 NVIDIA K20x accelerator cores.” Top500 is due to update its list this month.

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