China’s 240 petaflop supercomputer and 200+ petaflop US supercomputer will be competing in a few months

China will be launching one of three pre-exaFlop supercomputers later this year. The new supercomputer will be 200 times faster and have 100 times more storage capacity than the Tianhe-1 supercomputer, China’s first petaflop supercomputer launched in 2010, Zhang said.

Above – Phytium FT2000/64 ARM chip that is expected to power the new 240 petaflop supercomputer

The supercomputer center in Tianjin began developing the exascale supercomputer with the National University of Defense Technology in 2016.

According to the national plan for the next generation of high-performance computers, China will develop an exascale computer during the 13th Five-Year-Plan period (2016-2020).

Tianhe-1 delivers 1.2 peak petaflops, and 563 Linpack teraflops. A relatively old system now, Tiane-1 is powered by Intel Nehalem-era Xeon CPUs and now-ancient ATI Radeon GPUs.

Tianhe-1 supercomputer

If Zhang’s 200X performance multiplier is accurate, the new supercomputer he’s referring to will deliver 240 peak petaflops, making it the most powerful high-performance computing system in China, and possibly the entire world. The current champ on the TOP500 list is Sunway TaihuLight, another Chinese supercomputer. That system delivers 125.4 peak petaflops and achieved its number one spot on the list with a High-Performance Linpack (HPL) run of 93.0 petaflops.

Summit, a supercomputer currently being built at Oak Ridge National Lab, is expected to provide over 200 peak petaflops when it comes online this spring. That “over 200 petaflops” could easily reach to 240 petaflops or even higher. Up until now, it looked like Summit had a lock on the number one spot for the June TOP500 list. But if Summit’s Chinese counterpart manages to exceed it in peak flops and gets a decent HPL run, America’s hopes for the TOP500 crown will be foiled once again.

Summit Supercomputer

The new chinese supercomputer could be the Tianhe-2A supercomputer which is the long-overdue follow-up to Tianhe-1A. It was supposed to be deployed in 2017, when it was being characterized as a 100-petaflop machine. It’s conceivable that the Chinese decided that rather than building another system with a similar performance to TaihuLight, they would take some additional effort and time to come up with a Summit-beater in 2018.

The Tianhe-2A is expected to be powered by a combo of Phytium FT2000/64 ARM chips and Matrix2000 GPDSP accelerators. Assuming they keep those processors in place at their current rated performance (0.5 teraflops and 2.4 teraflops, respectively), they will have to more than double the node count to achieve 240 petaflops. That works out to about 43,000 nodes, which is lot, but certainly not unreasonable for such a machine. (Aurora, the first exascale machine in the US is supposedly going to have 50,000 nodes.)