China Wants To Build An Exascale Supercomputer 1,000 Times More Powerful Than Tianhe-1A


China's National Supercomputer Center revealed on Friday of its plan to release a prototype of a new supercomputer in the next few years. This computer will be 1,000 times more powerful than the groundbreaking Tianhe-1 as the country faces increasing demand for next-generation computing.

China's Tiahne-1A computer was the fastest computing system in the world when it was launched in 2010. Although it was eventually superseded by Tianhe-2 and is no longer the most powerful in the world, it remains one of the few petascale supercomputers. These computers are capable of performing one million billion operations per second.

National Supercomputer Center's Head of the Applications Department Meng Xiangfei said that the center will release a prototype of an exascale computer by 2017 or 2018. An exacscale computer is capable of making one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations, per second. This type of computing machine is hailed as the next frontier in supercomputer development.

No country has yet developed an exascale computer, which would exceed the computing power of the fastest machines today by at least 30-fold. The U.S., however, has already taken steps to build such a machine.

In July last year, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that would help facilitate supercomputing research in the country.

Although it is no longer the fastest computer, Tianhe-1A remains widely used, since computer scientists find it challenging to run contemporary applications at optimum speed using faster machines.

With Tianhe-A1 being used for animation and video effects, oil exploration data management, high-end equipment manufacturing and biomedical data processing, Meng said that the supercomputer's capacity is now being stretched. Tianhe-1A carries out over 1,400 computing tasks and serves around 1,000 users daily.

Meng said that the Chinese exascale computer will be developed by the National Supercomputer Center.

Tianhe-A1's successor, the Tianhe-2, is currently the fastest supercomputer in the world and for the sixth consecutive time, according to Top500, which comes up with lists of the world's fastest supercomputers.

The latest list hints of China's aggressive stance in the field of supercomputing as the country now has 109 out of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Photo: Dennis van Zuijlekom | Flickr

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