Nvidia Powers China to Get Fastest Supercomputer

Hopefully the battle of which nation has the fastest supercomputer will become the new space race, though we doubt that there will be as much public interest this time around.

China is now home to the world's fastest supercomputer (30 percent faster than the best in the U.S.), and it's partially thanks to Nvidia.

Revealed at HPC 2010 China is the new supercomputer called Tianhe-1A, which has set a new performance record of 2.507 petaflops, as measured by the LINPACK benchmark, making it the fastest system in China and in the world today.

Tianhe-1A couples massively parallel GPUs with multi-core CPUs, using 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs. Nvidia is proud of its GPU contribution as it would require more than 50,000 CPUs and twice as much floor space to deliver the same performance using CPUs alone.

More importantly, a 2.507 petaflop system built entirely with CPUs would consume more than 12 megawatts. Thanks to the use of GPUs in a heterogeneous computing environment, Tianhe-1A consumes only 4.04 megawatts, making it 3 times more power efficient -- the difference in power consumption is enough to provide electricity to over 5000 homes for a year.

Tianhe-1A was designed by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China. The system is housed at National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin and is already fully operational.

"The performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs," said Guangming Liu, chief of National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin. "The scientific research that is now possible with a system of this scale is almost without limits; we could not be more pleased with the results."

The Tianhe-1A supercomputer will be operated as an open access system to use for large scale scientific computations.

"GPUs are redefining high performance computing," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. "With the Tianhe-1A, GPUs now power two of the top three fastest computers in the world today. These GPU supercomputers are essential tools for scientists looking to turbocharge their rate of discovery."

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • EXT64
    Although I am sure it is low for a supercomputer of this caliber, this line always cracks me up:

    "consumes only 4.04 megawatts"

    I don't think I could ever call 4.04 MW "only".
  • kewlx
    Bleh china who cares..google will just create their own and be like suck it china
  • Great. Now let's build something 60% faster here in the USA.
  • adamboy64
    So.. when are we going to see some benchmarks?
  • IzzyCraft
    "for scientists looking to turbocharge their rate of discovery."
  • hunter315
    The computer only consumes 4.04 MW of power, but how much does the cooling system need to get that much heat out of the room, and people were worried about cars contributing to global warming.
  • nebun
    wow...7000 nvidia tesla gpus have as much power as 50,000 cpus, very impressive
  • christop
    I would guess it has a 10000000 thousand ton air conditioner for cooling.
  • Mr_Bojangles
    "Yes, it can."

    I loled
  • Stryter
    Mr_bojangles"Yes, it can."I loled
    Me too haha!