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China now is home to the world's most powerful supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A. It just kicked America's Jaguar supercomputer out of first place.  (Source: NVIDIA)

The supercomputer uses 7,168 NVIDIA Tesla M2050 GPUs.  (Source: NVIDIA)
System has 2.507 petaflops of computer power, draws 4 MW

NVIDIA has plenty to worry about in the consumer segment as it find itself yet again a generation behind AMD's latest graphics cards.  However, the company may simply be quietly divesting itself of its consumer market share by instead focusing on commercial GPU computing sales.

The graphics processor maker revealed today at HPC 2010 China an incredible new supercomputer, built using NVIDIA's GPUs which support CUDA, a C-driven technology that allows for the implementation of parallel computing code on the GPU.  The new supercomputer is named Tianhe-1a.  It is located at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Tianjin, China and is fully operational.

With a total computing power of 2.507 petaflops, as determined by the LINPACK benchmark which solves a dense system of linear equations, China's new supercomputer is the most powerful one in the world.

And NVIDIA's real bragging rights come when the power consumption is discussed.  By using GPUs instead of purely CPUs to fuel its calculations, the installation's power footprint is cut from an estimated 12 MW to 4.04 MW, saving enough electricity to power 5,000 homes a year.

Guangming Liu, chief of National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin comments, "The performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs.  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 supercomputer is composed of 7,168 NVIDIA Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs.  If it were only using CPUs it would also require twice the floor space, as it would require 50,000 CPUs to match the combined performance of the GPUs+CPUs.

China is offering open access to computing time on the supercomputer, but it's unclear whether Chinese researchers will be given preference over foreign ones.  

With the addition of the new supercomputer, China now has two of the three most powerful supercomputers in the world.  The third most powerful one -- previously in second place -- was the Nebulae supercomputer located in Shenzhen, which also uses NVIDIA's Tesla GPUs.  It has a peak capacity of 1.271 petaflops in LINPACK.

Tianhe-1a kicks an American computer out of the top spot.   The Jaguar supercomputer built by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now only the world's
second most powerful computer.  That machine, powered by its thousands of Opteron cores, posted 1.75 petaflop LINPACK performance.

The listed computing marks (in petaflops) were determined in LINPACK, which is recognized as a fair means of determining total computing power of a supercomputer.  This mark is different, though from the 
theoretical computing peak.  For example Nebulae has a higher theoretical computing mark that Jaguar, but in testing Jaguar comes out on top.

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By rwei on 10/28/2010 10:33:12 AM , Rating: 2
China now has the top two of the three most powerful supercomputers in the world.

...The Jaguar supercomputer built by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now only the world's second most powerful computer.

RE: hmm...
By GTaudiophile on 10/28/2010 11:11:31 AM , Rating: 2
That you know of...

You don't think someone like the NSA or DARPA have something you don't know of?

But yeah, I think it's about time to formally declare the start of a New Colder War against China. And this time we won't be able to "win" it by spending since we are already broke.

RE: hmm...
By corduroygt on 10/28/2010 12:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be pretty hard to conceal a supercomputer, not impossible, but pretty hard.

RE: hmm...
By bruce24 on 10/28/2010 12:55:58 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be pretty hard to conceal a supercomputer, not impossible, but pretty hard.

Not at all, while the manufactures and silicon companies making the top systems want the press, if the buyer doesn't it wont make and list and you will know very little if anything about the system.

RE: hmm...
By surt on 10/28/2010 1:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
Not hard at all. You build it underground like a secret military base, you vent the heat into the ground, you buy the components through shell companies, and you power it with its own nuclear reactor.

RE: hmm...
By Gio6518 on 10/28/2010 1:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
you vent the heat into the ground,and you power it with its own nuclear reactor.

with the heat nVidia GPU's put out, it will pretty much create its own form of geothermal energy....

RE: hmm...
By ARoyalF on 10/28/2010 9:53:54 PM , Rating: 4
Why those sneaky people in Iceland!!!

RE: hmm...
By Assimilator87 on 10/28/2010 2:09:45 PM , Rating: 3
I'm pretty sure they could reroute the heat from the GPUs to run steam turbines. It's a self powering monstrosity O_O

RE: hmm...
By Mutz1243 on 10/28/10, Rating: -1
RE: hmm...
By ARoyalF on 10/28/2010 9:57:35 PM , Rating: 5
Aww come on, this is Nvidia were talking about.


RE: hmm...
By B3an on 10/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: hmm...
By ARoyalF on 10/29/2010 9:23:16 PM , Rating: 3
It was a joke. Although my GTX285 does double as a room heater.....

RE: hmm...
By Samus on 10/29/2010 2:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
It'd be pretty hard to conceal a supercomputer, not impossible, but pretty hard.

Pfft. I have a super computer out in my garage. Prove me wrong... ;)

RE: hmm...
By ZmaxDP on 10/29/2010 3:04:01 PM , Rating: 5
I have one at my desk! I just put a cape on it, and it looks like a supercomputer to me...

RE: hmm...
By FITCamaro on 10/28/2010 12:12:05 PM , Rating: 4
But we'll just borrow money from the Chinese to fight them.

RE: hmm...
By ThisSpaceForRent on 10/28/2010 2:28:19 PM , Rating: 5
Nonsense! We'll just weaponize our worthless currency and throw it at them. Instead of bombs we'll drop pallets of worthless money on them. Our fortifications will be built from more worthless money, as will our soldiers body armor (it's cheaper to use money than actual metals/composites). Once we've flooded their country with enough money, we light it on fire and burn them out!

RE: hmm...
By nerdye on 10/31/2010 6:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
Dude ThisSpaceForRent,
reading your comment literally has tears rolling down my face I've been laughing so hard. That's the funniest thing I've heard all week man, keep it coming!


RE: hmm...
By Adonlude on 10/28/2010 12:17:12 PM , Rating: 5
Considering the a single GPU heats up my room when I game I think using this super computer could start a really really hot war.

RE: hmm...
By Shig on 10/28/2010 12:46:27 PM , Rating: 3
Sequoia - DARPA funded 20 Petaflop super computer scheduled to come online in 2012 in the US. Built to simulate nuclear weapons and things assosiated with their safe storage.

Blue Waters - 10 Petaflop super computer housed at the University of Illinois Champaign, scheduled to go online ~2011-2012. Built for open science.

Oak Ridge is also planning a 10 Petaflop super to be the successor to Jaguar.

RE: hmm...
By Master Kenobi on 10/28/2010 4:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
*waves hand* The NSA has no super computers, it was a lie.

RE: hmm...
By Fritzr on 10/28/2010 4:58:43 PM , Rating: 3
Well of course they have no supercomputers ... after all there is No Such Agency :P

RE: hmm...
By RMSe17 on 10/29/2010 8:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure that Roadrunner is their top computer for classified applications. While Jaguar was the top US supercomputer, Jaguar was open to scientists and was not designed for classified work. Roadrunner though was designed for the military.

RE: hmm...
By stimudent on 10/28/2010 3:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
For serious computational research - out with the CPUs and in with the GPUs.

This article is wrong
By tigz1218 on 10/28/2010 12:24:13 PM , Rating: 5
There is a 3 way tie for the most powerful computer in the world; The iPhone4, the iPad, or any of my various Macbooks.


RE: This article is wrong
By RedemptionAD on 10/28/2010 4:08:29 PM , Rating: 4
By powerful you mean magical?

RE: This article is wrong
By tigz1218 on 10/28/2010 5:24:21 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, thank you for getting my sarcasm. I guess no one else did...first time I have ever been rated down in the history of my Dailytech existance. I am going to go home and weep now.

RE: This article is wrong
By Donkey2008 on 10/29/2010 5:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it was a great reply. It was comtemporary, yet cynical. Perhaps you are the next Kurt Vonnaget.

By solarrocker on 10/28/2010 10:27:45 AM , Rating: 1
"he performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs. 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."

He, who is he?

RE: He?
By WayneCoffee on 10/28/2010 10:35:20 AM , Rating: 2
I believe it's "The".
lack of proofreading again.

RE: He?
By solarrocker on 10/28/2010 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
I know, was just trying to be silly.

RE: He?
By ThePooBurner on 10/28/2010 11:15:31 AM , Rating: 4
Does no one understand sarcasm when they see it?

RE: He?
By Omega215D on 10/28/2010 4:39:03 PM , Rating: 4
Professor He of National University of Defense Technology

His apprentice is Hung Wei Lo.


By 91TTZ on 10/28/2010 2:05:02 PM , Rating: 3
The article puts too much emphasis on the 7,168 NVidia GPUs, but lists no details about the 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs.

By Omega215D on 10/28/2010 6:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
All manufactured at Foxconn!

By Omega215D on 10/28/2010 6:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
err... other than the intel chips.

By sukmidik on 10/29/2010 6:33:24 PM , Rating: 3
The author is obviously trying to put a bulleye's on Nvidia for the public. Intel provided thousands of CPU's to build this supercomtuer to dethrone america's supercomputer crown, yet their is no mention of Intel anywhere in the article. Nvidia is a successful hi-tech company co-founded by a asian-american that added to national GDP and provided jobs for thousands.

By DaSpikester on 11/1/2010 7:50:01 PM , Rating: 2
That's because the Xeons don't contribute significantly to the computational power of the machine: they play a support role for the M2050 Tesla GPUs, which do the lifting.

A single M2050 has 448 cores and over 500 gigaflops of double-precision floating point performance - that's so much more than a Xeon that it doesn't make sense to slow the system down by trying to use the Xeons for computation. Instead, the Xeons are used in a support role for things like data access and memory transfers to keep the GPUs fed.

The key to how well this Chinese machine will actually perform will be how well a given application can balance the relatively less parallel data access tasks serviced by the Xeons with the massively parallel computation done in the GPUs. If the Xeons can keep the GPUs saturated it will scream. If not, well, welcome to Amdahl's Law...

You'd be crazy to use it
By MrTeal on 10/28/2010 11:10:10 AM , Rating: 5
China is offering open access to computing time on the supercomputer, but it's unclear whether Chinese researchers will be given preference over foreign ones.

If you are doing any sort of research into something you might one day want to patent or use in a product, you would have to take a long, hard look at the people running system and decide if it's worth it. China isn't exactly known as a beacon of patent law advocacy, and considering it's run by the national defense university...

RE: You'd be crazy to use it
By kattanna on 10/28/2010 11:34:43 AM , Rating: 2
yep. that, IMO, will be the limiting factor of who uses it

RE: You'd be crazy to use it
By BZDTemp on 10/28/2010 2:30:32 PM , Rating: 3
Don't know - if I could access I'm sure my SETI@HOME score would get a nice boost:-)

By Landiepete on 10/29/2010 3:20:57 AM , Rating: 2
And our universities and research institutions will gladly make use of all that Chinese openness in the use of their new behemoth.
This will give the Chinese access to all our experiments and research....equally free !

RE: Brilliant...
By JediJeb on 10/29/2010 11:18:38 AM , Rating: 2
It is interesting that up until the Clinton administration it was illegal to export super computer tech to China, but after those eight years they were almost caught up to us and now they have passed us. I guess once we mismanaged our finances enough we were willing to do anything to bring in money, has been that way since Bush Sr started having talks with China to grant them Most Favored Nation trade status.

Congrats to the Chinese for their ingenuity, but I still don't feel comfortable with how easily we let go of some of our most guarded secrets.

RE: Brilliant...
By bobny1 on 11/1/2010 7:09:29 AM , Rating: 2
Created?. The chinese never create anything. They copy stollen technology. Cheap ease way of getting a crown. Pathetyic and scary!

RE: Brilliant...
By DaSpikester on 11/2/2010 10:57:56 AM , Rating: 2
Now, now... the rules of the game are that it's OK to play up nationalistic fervor if you have something to crow about. But not if you are a crippled former empire begging favors. Then it looks pathetic, y'know, like the French beating up on Tahitians to prove to themselves France is still a world-wide empire.

Jen-Hsun Huang is Chinese, born in Taipei. The US is lucky to have him, along with all the other immigrants upon which the tech industry depends. The last Intel processor designed by Americans was the 80386, way back in the late 80's. The 486 was already over 65% foreigners, mainly Chinese, Indians, Pakis, Koreans, Israelis and a Russian or two. The 586, AKA "Pentium" was over 90% foreigners. Nobody pretends that Americans are designing chips any more these days. For chip design, which is what computer design is these days, the US depends on foreigners, not the other way around.

They get built overseas too. NVIDIA builds its chips in China (Taiwan), depending on Chinese process masters to get the yields they need on the world's largest and most complex silicon devices. The internals of NVIDIA's parallel libraries are all done by foreigners too, mostly NVIDIA's pet Russian math gods.

This Chinese supercomputer got built with Chinese money using chips founded by a Chinese entrepreneur built in Chinese factories by Chinese process masters, and it will be programmed mostly by Chinese and Russian programmers. US guys wrote the press release quoting the Indian manager, Sumit Gupta. If anybody needs to steal technology it's the US that needs to steal foreign technology to keep up.

Great, BUT...
By mindless1 on 10/28/2010 10:32:18 AM , Rating: 1
... will it play...?

RE: Great, BUT...
By WayneCoffee on 10/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: Great, BUT...
By RedemptionAD on 10/28/2010 4:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, I think full enthusiest settings may be possible. Let me check...ya at 1024x768 any higher and it starts to get choppy.

RE: Great, BUT...
By solarrocker on 10/28/2010 10:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
Will it blend?

Will it microwave?

Actually would like to see the last one

The most powerful supercomputer is...
By aguilpa1 on 10/28/2010 1:33:35 PM , Rating: 2
mobile, underwater, cooled by seawater and powered by a nuclear reactor.

By roadhog1974 on 10/28/2010 11:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
and built by aliens.

Not US?
By mindless1 on 10/28/2010 1:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't the world's most powerful supercomputer be ALL OF US? Running the largest internet simulation the world has ever seen?

RE: Not US?
By ARoyalF on 10/28/2010 10:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and we can see how that pans out......

Let me guess..
By eddieroolz on 10/29/2010 4:37:56 AM , Rating: 4
They say "solving linear equations" but in reality -

- Trying to crack passwords of classified US systems.
- Simulating nuclear tests and actual launch events aginst the US, Japan, South Korea and such.
- Planning more attacks on Senkaku Islands.
- Enforcing the Great Firewall of China.

Yes I know, they are ridiculous suggestions, but plausible given China's track record...

Something some guy said in 1983...
By bkslopper on 10/29/2010 1:25:58 AM , Rating: 3 witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational battlestation. Fire at will Commander.

I want details
By bug77 on 10/28/2010 10:30:03 AM , Rating: 2
Is it running Windows or iOS?

RE: I want details
By WayneCoffee on 10/28/10, Rating: 0
By GuinnessKMF on 10/28/2010 11:22:03 AM , Rating: 2
All this talk about the GPUs, but this is a tech site, we're still interested in the other information. What kind of CPUs? How much RAM/Storage space?

Quick search reveals them to be Xeon CPUs, but no other info.

This was an NVidia Press Release
By Fritzr on 10/28/2010 4:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
Which explains the hype about NVidia GPUs and general silence on any other details :)

More info at:

An earlier Tianhe-1 also made the Top 10 using AMD GPUs :)

Imtel wins the propaganda battle though. Both Tianhe 1 and Tianhe 1A use Xeons.

But can it run Crysis?
By thesafetyisoff on 10/28/2010 7:48:55 PM , Rating: 2
At full detail, I mean.

America wants and needs an enemy
By rcreyes on 11/3/2010 8:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
It is in America's DNA to make enemies out of any country that is up and coming. Americans just love to hate. Go to China, and people speak well of America. They actually love America, want to come here, respect America. Ask white Americans about China, and it's only seen as a threat. It's the Yellow Peril again.

By manofhorn on 10/28/10, Rating: 0
RE: except
By nomagic on 10/28/2010 10:29:04 AM , Rating: 1
What are you talking about? Is this some kind of sarcasm? I don't understand where the 6-inch-wide screen comes from?

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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