China's Tianhe-2 Supercomputer Still has the Most Flops (Japan's K-Computer's in 4th place)

Tianhe-2 -

Word's Fastest Computer
Reports from the SC13 Supercomputer Conference in Dever, CO, U.S.A. have once again confirmed that China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer is leading the world's petaflop count - it pulls off 33.86 of them. Tianhe-2 has held this title since June of this year. That's cool, though aside from making the top of SC13's list, nobody really knows what the computer's actual purpose and utility will be.

What's a petaflop, one might wonder? Well, basically it's the measure we now must use to quantify a supercomputer's benchmarked capability, i.e., Tianhe-2 throws down 33.86 of them per second, and that's just under twice as many as #2. We didn't always use petaflops though, we actually only passed the teraflop barrier in 2008 with IBM's Roadrunner.

For all practical everyday people and their purposes, there's no need to trot out the exponents and hypersyllabic numeric values - all you really need to know, and feel free to share this with friends and family, is that "China has the world's fastest supercomputer because it can do a kabillion jillion calculations per second."

Where's Japan?
At 10.51 petaflops, Fujitsu's K-Computer was the world's fastest for a period in 2011. The same machine, managed by the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS), now sits at #4.

Who's Really Winning at Supercomputing?
America. By a quite a bit, actually. Of the world's top 10, the United States has #2, #3, #5, #7, and #9. And it's not just speed. While the Cray XK7 Titan only turns 17.59 petaflops, it does so with approximately 1/5 of the processing cores and less than half the energy required by Tianhe-2. The U.S. also uses supercomputers to do actual stuff like climate modeling, finding cats on the internets, and other massively complicated huge-data tasks - and that counts for a lot.

What's Clear is This:
Computer's are getting a helluva lot faster at a helluva lot faster rate. Considering that along with this: as reported earlier this month, some of Google's data center systems are exhibiting what is arguably - though speculatively - emergent, semi-biological patterns that engineers actually can't completely explain. Might be a good idea to start thinking about how to be nice to your machines.

If we do not, if we're not careful, someday - sooner than most would guess - supercomputers might decide to power humans down. 

• • •

Additional Sources: Wikipedia: Supercomputing; SC13; Register UK


Related Articles

RIKEN New Supercomputer -

November’s SC13 Supercomputer Conference confirmed China’s Tianhe 2, clocked at 33.86 PETAFLOPS, as the world’s fastest. Japan’s K Computer comes in at #4, but the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science has plans to smash both rankings, and it’s impressive, but also relative.

• • •

Hokkaido University and RIKEN AICS are researching aerodynamics simulation, to simulate the air flow around automobiles.
Investigating the force exerted by air on a moving car is essential for improving fuel efficiency and safety. In particular, using a supercomputer called K has made it possible to simulate air resistance, which is the most important factor, with a precision equivalent to wind tunnel tests.

Dr. Yoshiyuki Kaneda serves as manager of R&D projects for the HPCI strategic program field 3 -Advanced Prediction Research for Natural Disaster Prevention and Reduction-conducting research for improvement of prediction accuracy of earthquakes and tsunamis. This research has three main themes: earthquake, tsunami, and evaluation of damage to cities caused by earthquakes and tsunamis. This research is conducted by using the K computer.

Osaka has long been the home to many pharmaceutical companies in japan. The NPO Biogrid Center Kansai, located in Grand Front Osaka (opened in 2013), partners with universities and pharmaceutical companies to lay the groundwork for in silico drug discovery using the K computer. In silico means leveraging new IT-based techniques for drug discovery in addition to traditional experiment-based techniques.

The Institute of Technology, Shimizu Corporation, the results of tests using large wind tunnels are being replicated by ultra-large-scale simulations, using a supercomputer called the K Computer. In this way, the researchers are working to develop a new method for detailed prediction of instantaneous maximum local wind pressure acting on building.