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Bright Idea

Speed machine

This week, a Chinese supercomputer beat an American one to become the most powerful in the world. Tianhe-2 recorded a speed of 33. 86 petaflops - or 33 quadrillion calculations per second - to dislodge the American Titan-Cray XK7 as the most powerful computing machine. TOI-Crest explains the world of supercomputers.SUPERWHAT?

Often dubbed projects of national strategic importance, supercomputers are the world's most expensive and complex computer systems and are used for a variety of tasks from weather forecasting and molecular modelling to simulating nuclear tests and cryptography.

The list of top supercomputers, compiled and announced twice a year by Top500. org, uses the 'Linpack Benchmark' to estimate computing speed. This involves measuring how fast these complex computer systems are able 'to solve a dense system of linear equations'.


Experts point out that although the Tianhe-2 (' Milky Way' in Chinese), developed by the Changsha-based National University of Defence Technology, uses Intel processors, virtually everything else - from the design to the operating system - was developed in China. The system may have cost over $1. 5 billion and its speed is almost double that of Titan-Cray XK7. This is the second time a Chinese system has taken the crown. Tianhe-1 A held it briefly in 2010-2011.

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