Skip to main content

Fastest Supercomputer, China Outpaces U.S.

Supercomputers help build nuclear weapons, design aerospace engines, and produce lifesaving drugs. For years, the U.S. had the best and biggest arsenal. Until China got in the game. 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of the great symbols of America’s scientific and military prowess. For six decades, here on this tranquil campus tucked away in the hill country east of San Francisco, where scientists stroll along leafy paths and zip to meetings on bicycles, huge breakthroughs have been made, like the discovery of a half-dozen elements on the periodic table and the detection of a key component of dark matter.

Livermore’s biggest claim to fame involves designing the world’s most advanced nuclear warheads—this was the mission of the lab when it was created in 1952 by Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb. To do this, Livermore relies on powerful machines called supercomputers, which hum away inside top-secret, heavily guarded buildings. The U.S. has long dominated the industry. Which is what made the news that Bruce Goodwin, head of the lab’s weapons program, received last November all the more momentous: the Chinese had unveiled the world’s most powerful supercomputer, a machine five times more powerful than Livermore’s biggest computer.
To most of us, this might sound like no big deal, akin to Apple coming out with a faster smartphone than Microsoft. But to the scientists, industry titans, and world leaders who understand how delicate America’s position as a global superpower really is, this was a Sputnik moment. Only this time, it wasn’t Russia trouncing the U.S. in the space race, but China surging ahead in one of the most vital areas of national security. By running thousands of processors in parallel, supercomputers not only help design weapons systems, they also model climate change, crack codes, and help develop new and life-changing drugs. Cranking out 500 trillion operations per second, just one of Livermore’s supercomputers throws off so much heat that if the air-conditioning system were to fail, the computer would start to melt within minutes.
            The Tianhe-1A supercomputer in Tianjin, China., Wei ta / Imaginechina-Corbis
Globally, high-performance computing is a $25.6 billion industry, and whoever holds the lead in the field gains huge economic and military advantages. Or put another way, if the U.S. falls behind in supercomputing it could quickly lose its edge in all areas of science, in industries like oil and gas exploration and pharmaceutical research, and in security and military fields. In the race to develop the most powerful computers, both our economic prosperity and our national security are on the line.
When China flipped the switch on the Tianhe-1A, also called the "Milky Way" supercomputer, last fall, it placed itself at the top of the technology world with a stunning demonstration of its newfound engineering prowess. The Chinese grip on the top spot turned out to be short-lived, since six months later, a team in Japan announced an even bigger supercomputer that bumped Tianhe-1A into second place. Nevertheless, the Chinese had made their point, demonstrating to the world that when it comes to developing the newest, biggest, fastest machines, the inconvenient truth is that China, our No. 1 military and political rival, now runs neck and neck with the U.S. in a field that for decades the U.S. dominated. Experts predict China will soon leapfrog Japan again. Already, it has 74 of the 500 biggest supercomputers in the world, up from zero a decade ago and second only to the U.S., which has 263. And while the U.S. struggles to fund new development, China seems to have limitless resources to pursue its ambitious goals. 'We’re scared," says Dona Crawford, who runs computing at Livermore. "This technology is fundamental for our national security, and for our economic competitiveness. Are we really going to let this slip away? Yeah, we’re scared."
But they’re not bowing out. The Livermore team is now designing an enormous new supercomputer that will yoke together more than a million microprocessors and produce eight times the power of the Tianhe-1A. Built by IBM and code-named Sequoia, it’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012. The official cost of the project is undisclosed, but it certainly will soar into the hundreds of millions of dollars, with Livermore putting up $200 million and IBM contributing untold millions more. It’s a huge and risky bet, even more so in these perilous economic times.
China’s emergence as a supercomputing superpower should not have come as a surprise. They’ve been talking about this for 20 years. ÒIt’s just that nobody believed them," says Wu Feng, a professor of computer science at Virginia Tech. "Now it’s like a freight train. It’s coming on so fast, and a lot of people are worried."

Comments

  1. I personally believe that statement of purpose for ms in computer science should of amazing quality like demonstrating to the world that when it comes to developing the newest, biggest, fastest machines.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

C++ Programming Tutorial - How to Install Code::Blocks in Ubuntu Linux - Learn Online

Installing Code::Blocks How do I Install Code::Blocks HOWTO: Installing Code::Blocks 10.05 How do you install Irrlicht on Code::Blocks? How do you install CodeBlock on ubuntu? codeblocks /bin/sh: g++: not found Installing codeblocks on ubuntu Installing Code::Blocks on Ubuntu 10.04?

Facebook Advertising Coupon – What Happened?

It used to be that Facebook had many different promotions in which they gave out free $50 advertising coupons. Facebook Advertising Coupon is only getting from some hosting service that is include in godaddy Hostgator and 1and1, If you do a search for “Free Facebook Coupons” on Google you’ll probably see some results like this: Free coupon when you buy WordPress hosting through GoDaddy Free coupon when you setup a DIY website through specific website builders Free coupon when you “like” Facebook’s Marketing page Unfortunately none of these are still active. What happened is in mid-2015 Facebook tightened their hold on advertising credit coupons, likely in response to companies who were “reselling” coupons on eBay and Fiverr. As a result, Facebook ended many of these promotions. Facebook Advertising Coupon Facebook Ads can get expensive pretty quickly. There’s no secret about that. And with organic reach continuing to decline with the most recent algorithm update to th

Contextual Design and Development is the Driving Force Behind all Successful Mobile Applications

The time of ordinary custom web application design & development is long gone. Today the focus is on contextual design and development. It is the rise in the popularity of mobile applications that has provided the impetus for giving importance to ‘context’ when it comes to app or web development. Let’s focus our attention on mobile applications and why mobile applications need to be developed keeping the context in mind. Because they are used in diverse locations Let’s face it. We all love mobile apps because they can be used just about anywhere and at any given point of time. Yes, that’s right, they can be used in offices, on a train, in the kitchen, movie theatre and the list just goes on. So, the app needs to be developed in context of the location. Different users have different needs when it comes to a mobile app and these needs, in part, are determined by their location. For e.g. if a developer thinks a particular app that is in the process of being developed will onl