China’s new supercomputing system Sunway-TaihuLight was on Monday named the world’s fastest computer at the International Supercomputing Conference in Germany. The National Supercomputing Centre was also unveiled simultaneously in China’s Jiangsu province, where the new-generation supercomputer is installed, Xinhua news agency reported. With processing capacity of 125.436 petaflops (PFlops) per second, which means it can perform quadrillions of calculations per second at peak performance, Sunway-TaihuLight is the first supercomputer to achieve speeds in excess of 100 PFlops. Also Read - Facebook for Android will soon get dark mode and coronavirus tracking featureAlso Read - Scientists develop soft contact lens that can zoom with a blink
The computing power of the supercomputer is provided by a China-developed many-core CPU chip, which is just 25 square cm. “It would take 7.2 billion people using electronic calculators 32 years, or two million desktop computers working together for one minute, to do the same calculation the computer can solve in just 60 seconds,” said Yang Guangwen, head of the centre. Installed inside the centre’s 1,000-square-metre computer room, Sunway-TaihuLight is composed of 40,960 processors.
In addition to its speed, it is much more energy-efficient than its predecessor Tianhe-2, which was the world’s best supercomputer for six years. One watt of electricity can support six billion calculations by Sunway-TaihuLight, which is just a third of the energy consumption by the China-developed Tianhe-2, which registered 33.86 PFlops per second, for the same calculations. However, other countries are advancing their own supercomputing prowess, said Fu Haohuan, deputy head of the centre.
The US aims to produce a supercomputer with 1,000 PFlops per second by 2025. At its current speed, by 2017, it is expected to have designed a supercomputer with speed three to five times that of Tianhe-2. “Although speed is a primary target, controlling the energy level is just as vital. Otherwise, future supercomputers will consume power equivalent to the amount used by a middle-size city,” said Fu.
China has channelled 1.8 billion yuan ($273 million) to support the development of Sunway-TaihuLight, about one third of which was from the central government and the other two thirds was shared by the Jiangsu provincial and Wuxi municipal governments. China’s supercomputing technology on Monday was also included on the shortlist of the German Innovation Award’s Gottfried Wagnner Prize. This was the first time that China has been included on the shortlist. The winner will be announced later this year.