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Supercomputing: Right on time 2010-Nov-14 at 19:08 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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The growth of supercomputing capability in the world continues along it’s exponential curve.  In the wake of China staking out its territory by announcing the world’s fastest supercomputer, at 2.5 petaflops, the United States announces its next move: two different 20 petaflop systems by 2012.

From U.S. building next wave of supercomputers, by Patrick Thibodeau, 12-Nov-2010:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, home for what has been the world’s most powerful system, the Jaguar, a 1.75-petaflop system, versus Tianhe-1A’s 2.5 petaflops, is building a 20-petaflop system that will include accelerators.

That system will be ready in 2012, James Hack, director of the National Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge, told Computerworld. No other details about the system are being offered.

Another 20-petaflop system is being built for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by IBM. That system has already been announced and is expected to arrive at the lab in late 2011 and be in production in 2012.

To put this in perspective, according to Wikipedia, "As of June 2010, the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world combine for 32.4 petaFLOPS of computing power."  That means that, in less than two years, we’ll have two systems in the United States that, together, are more powerful than the top 500 supercomputers on Earth today.  Japan will have a 10 petaflop system as well.

Additionally, the price per gigaflop (a petaflop is 1,000,000 gigaflops) has dropped from $15,000,000 in 1984, to $30,000 in 1997, to $1,000 in 2000, and today to around $0.14.  That’s right: from $15,000,000 to 14¢, and we’ll soon get a gigaflop for under 1¢, on hardware available to ordinary consumers around the world.

That’s how fast supercomputing power grows.  That’s how fast it grows for us as well, on ordinary computers.  More computing power, less cost to build it.  It’s fun to watch.

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China challenges the US and the world with the second fastest supercomputer ever 2010-Jun-01 at 00:40 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Chinese Supercomputer Is Ranked World’s Second-Fastest, Challenging U.S. Dominance, by John Markoff, 31-May-2010

The Dawning Nebulae, based at the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen, China, has achieved a sustained computing speed of 1.27 petaflops — the equivalent of one thousand trillion mathematical operations a second — in the latest semiannual ranking of the world’s fastest 500 computers.

And they have an even faster one coming in the fall.

But China appears intent on challenging American dominance. There had been some expectation that China would make an effort to complete a system based on Chinese-designed components in time for the June ranking. The Nebulae is based on chips from Intel and Nvidia.

The new system, which is based on a microprocessor that has been designed and manufactured in China, is now expected later this year. A number of supercomputing industry scientists and engineers said that it was possible that the new machine would claim the title of world’s fastest.

If you think this is fast… well, you probably already own a computer capable of tens of gigaflops right now.  Even at a modest rate of doubling of speed like every five years, you’ll own a computer this fast in less than fifteen years, and your mobile device/phone will be this powerful in less than twenty years.