The China-developed Tianhe-I becomes the world's fastest supercomputer


#1

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Tianhe-I or Tianhe-1 or TH-1 (Mandarin pronunciation: [tʰjɛ́nxɤ̌ íxɑ̂ʊ̯], pinyin: Tiānhé yīhào) is a supercomputer at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, China. It is one of the few petaFLOP-level supercomputers in the world.[1][2]

In October 2010, an upgraded version of the machine (Tianhe-1A) bested the Jaguar to become the world’s fastest supercomputer, with a peak computing rate of 2.507 petaflops.[3] The Tianhe-I uses a Linux operating system.[4][5]

Tianhe-I was developed by the Chinese National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Changsha, Hunan. It was first revealed to the public on 29 October 2009, and was immediately ranked as the world’s fifth fastest supercomputer in the TOP500 list released at the 2009 Supercomputing Conference (SC09) held in Portland, Oregon, on 16 November 2009. Tianhe achieved a speed of 563 teraflops in its first Top 500 test and had a peak performance of 1.2 petaflops. Thus at startup, the system had an efficiency of 46%.[6][7] Originally, Tianhe-I was powered by 4,096 Intel Xeon E5540 processors and 1,024 Intel Xeon E5450 processors, with 5,120 AMD GPUs which were made up of 2,560 dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics cards.[8][9]

After an upgrade, it is now equipped with 14,336 Xeon X5670 processors and 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 general purpose GPUs. 2,048 NUDT FT1000 heterogeneous processors are also installed in the system, but their computing power was not counted into the machine’s official Linpack statistics as of October 2010.[10] After the upgrade, Tianhe-1A has a theoretical peak performance of 4.701 petaflops.[11] It was revealed at HPC 2010 China. NVIDIA suggest that it would have taken “50,000 CPUs and twice as much floor space to deliver the same performance using CPUs alone.” The current heterogeneous system consumes 4.04 megawatts compared to over 12 megawatts if it was only built with CPUs.[12]

TH-1 runs an operating system based on the Linux kernel.[13]

The supercomputer is installed at the National Super Computer Center, Tianjin, and is used to carry out computations for petroleum exploration and aircraft simulation.[7] It is an “open access” computer meaning it provides services for other countries.[14]

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7,168 gpu it can definitely run Mario. :P


#2

hmm....its more like china assembled supercomputer with american intel xeon cpu and american amd gpu (ati) rather than developed given the specs and software it can be assembled in any 3rd world country given if they pour enough money on off the shelf consumer grade hardware available all over the world and free open source software.

i don't see any chinese in house innovation in terms of hardware and software.


#3

^x2

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7,168 gpu it can definitely run Mario. :P
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That joke goes with Crysis.


#4

7,168 GPUS! AAWWWWWWW!!!!!!! hhhhhaaaaaayyyyyyyeeeeeeee!

:o


#5

#6

[quote=", post:, topic:"]

hmm…its more like china assembled supercomputer with american intel xeon cpu and american amd gpu (ati) rather than developed given the specs and software it can be assembled in any 3rd world country given if they pour enough money on off the shelf consumer grade hardware available all over the world and free open source software.

i don’t see any chinese in house innovation in terms of hardware and software.

[/quote]

That is just crazy thinking. The skill is in making the various chips work together. Its no use if you have 10,000 chips but can’t make them work together. So doesn’t matter who designed the chips. Its making them work together to solve problems for you, cooling them properly and eliminating bottlenecks which is the real skill. 10,000 chips need super fast memory and storage access for instance. They need to be properly cooled as well. You also need a specialized linux or unix operating system to make use off all that computing power.

The chips were probably manufactured in China so saying they had no part in the creation of the chips is also wrong.


#7

^^^

chinese are "great" imitator and not "great" innovator, they are mediocre in innovation, i rest my case.


#8

[quote=", post:, topic:"]

^^^

chinese are “great” imitator and not “great” innovator, they are mediocre in innovation, i rest my case.

[/quote]

Innovation requires a lot of money and risk. People don’t invest in new innovations unless they have no other investment option available to them. In countries like the US they can’t make enough money by imitating so they gamble with innovations. Only when a country reaches a certain level of prosperity can it resort to innovation. Only when people have too much money in their hands will they put it into risky ventures.

Taiwanese semi conductor manufacturers started as imitators. Now Taiwanese companies like Acer and Asus are developing their own products. So the point is that you can’t jump to innovation when you haven’t perfected imitation yet.


#9

Well said rokra! So true. Even Japan can be quoted an example as a predecessor to Tiwan. They started off with cheap imitations in 60-70s. Then moved on to quality. Now they've surpassed that and are gambling with innovations, and competing with US and Europe in technology.


#10

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Well said rokra! So true. Even Japan can be quoted an example as a predecessor to Tiwan. They started off with cheap imitations in 60-70s. Then moved on to quality. Now they’ve surpassed that and are gambling with innovations, and competing with US and Europe in technology.
[/quote]

Yes that is right. They’ve been innovating for a few decades now. Sony came up with the Walkman years ago. And Honda and Toyota made the first hybrid cars. There are lots of other examples (game consoles, anyone?) but these will suffice for now.

The South Koreans are another example. Samsung is developing its own technology like its mobile CPUs, tablets and what not.


#11

#12

Interconnect pushed China super to #1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A homegrown, ultrafast interconnect chip set was part of the secret sauce behind the Tianhe-1a, the first China-built system to be named the world's fastest supercomputer. The 160 Gbit/second Galaxy interconnect links thousands of the latest Intel Westmere and Nvidia Fermi processors in the system that will be used for a broad range of scientific research.

The Tainhe-1a in Tianjin was measured at 2.5 petaflops using the Linpack benchmark. The previous top supercomputer was the U.S.-based Jaguar built by Cray using six-core AMD processors to deliver 1.7 petaflops.

The accomplishment is a major milestone for China's advancing electronics industry. The Galaxy interconnect is twice as fast as the Infiniband QDR interconnects used on many of today's fastest supercomputers based on chips from Mellanox Technologies.

U.S. researchers said the news underscores the need for greater federal spending in the U.S. on research in high-performance systems. "It's a sign they are making a long term investment," said Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee researcher who helps compile the twice annual Top 500 list of supercomputers.

"The next stage would be replacing the U.S. processors—and they are executing on chips replacing the Intel and Nvidia parts," said Dongarra, referring to China's Godson processors. "Then the machine becomes more interesting and of greater concern" to U.S. researchers, he said.

A China-built supercomputer in Shenzhen hit number two on the Top 500 supercomputer list published in June using Intel and Nvidia processors. Researchers on that project said their next-generation system will use China's Godson chips.

The U.S. has "not made adequate investment across the board on the key components of the supercomputer ecosystem," he said.

Inside the Tianhe-1a

The Tianhe-1a is believed to be fie first supercomputer to use China's Galaxy interconnect chip set. Dongarra said he expect the chip set could appear in other China supers in the future.

Apart from its speed, the interconnect appears to be similar to others in use. It is based on a standard fat tree architecture, Dongarra said.

Indeed the Tianhe-1a is itself not usual among supercomputers. It uses an increasingly popular hybrid approach of pairing standard microprocessors with graphics co-processors.

The system replaces an earlier supercomputer in Tianjin built from Intel processors and AMD graphics chips that was ranked #7 on the June Top 500 list. Graphics chips are credited with providing heavy duty processing for relatively little power.

As is typical of new supercomputers, the Tianhe-1a uses the latest processors to gain a speed edge. They include a 2.93 GHz version of the six-core Intel Westmere processor and the Nvidia Fermi M2050.

The Tianhe-1a is built up from 7,168 nodes. Each node contains two Westmere processors, one Fermi graphics card and 32 Gbytes memory.

The system came online in October and will be used for weather and climate modeling, materials research, biomedical research and oil exploration. Dongarra got an up close look at the system while in Tianjin last week for a joint conference of U.S. and China supercomputer researchers sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the China Academy of Science.

The meeting "was intended to start a dialog between [the U.S. and China supercomputer] communities, and hopefully we can continue the discussion," Dongarra said.

The Tianhe-1a is likely to retain its #1 status when the new Top 500 list comes out in early November. However, the list changes quickly.

For example, Cray and IBM are at work separately on next-generation systems expected to deliver tens of petaflops under a multi-year program sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The goals of that program include designing more balanced systems that are easier to program.

Dongarra was quick to point out the limitations of measuring supercomputer performance in petaflops using the Linpack benchmark.

"Linpack should not be used as the only way to measure the characteristics of a computer, it's just one computation," Dongarra said. "You need to understand other aspects to get a feel for how any application runs on a supercomputer, so it's just one pole in the ground," he said.

"I didn't get offered nor did I have time to look [at other aspects of the Tianhe-1a], but it looked like a reasonably balanced computer for scientific computing," he added.

Link: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4210223/Interconnect-pushed-China-super-to--1