China could Displace Tennessee as the Home of the Fastest Computer by November 2010

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China is expected to dethrone Tennessee as the home of the world’s fastest computer by November, a top U.S. Energy Department official said Monday.

That’s when China’s Nebulae supercomputer in Shenzhen reaches peak performance, said U.S. Energy Undersecretary Steven Koonin. But planned upgrades of the Cray Jaguar computer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory should help America regain the lead by 2012, he said. The DOE announced this spring that Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive $122 million over the next five years to establish a Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub to test materials, processes and equipment used in the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors

* 2.3 petaflops for the Oak Ridge Cray Jaguar supercomputer now

* 2.98 petaflops is the theoretical capacity of China’s Nebulea supercomputer in Shenzhen

Lawrence Livermore should have its 20 petaflop ibm blue gene/Q (Sequoia) computer in 2012.

Sequoia will consume around 6 megawatts, yielding an energy efficiency ratio of over 3,000 MFLOPS/watt*. That represents a 7X improvement over the Blue Gene/P generation (440 MFLOPS/watt*), and is even better than the Cell-based Roadrunner system at Los Alamos (587 MFLOPS/watt*). For a starker comparison, the 1.6 petaflop Opteron-based Jaguar supercomputer installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses about 8.5 megawatts (188 MFLOPS/watt*).When Sequoia arrives in the first half of 2011, space is going to be at a premium in the lab’s Terascale Simulation Facility

Dr. Koonin said maintaining the lead in computer hardware and software technologies is key to U.S. innovation and he called it “disconcerting” that China may soon gain more computer speed.

“Some who worry about American competitiveness may say, “Well that’s OK because they are just building it with U.S. components,’” Dr. Koonin said, noting that the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen is supported by Intel and Nvidia chips, both developed in California’s Silicon Valley.

“But there is a (nearly as fast) indigenous machine in the works in China and the relative slopes of the pace of innovation in the U.S. and China is somewhat disconcerting,” he said.

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