Thursday, October 28, 2010

China unveils the mighty Tianhe-1A

The People's Republic of China has once again managed to totally piss off the Western World, in that smug, passive-aggressive manner that they deploy against us so often these days. It seems that whenever they're not hosting our Olympics or buying up our debt, they're bypassing our technology, often for no better reason than they 'just feel like it'.

Now they've chosen to undermine us once again, this time by unveiling the world's fastest supercomputer, the mighty Tianhe-1A. The 155 ton supercomputer is said to be 1.4 times faster than what used to be the pride of America, the Cray XTB Jaguar, which is now locked in it's room and insisting on being called Lois. China's pretentiously named National University of Defense Technology claims that the machine's peak performance can reach 1.206 petaflops, which is a lot of flops indeed.
As is their wont, the Chinese even gave their machine a cooler name than anything an American developer has come up with for a computer. Tianhe is Chinese for 'Milky Way' and 1A is Chinese for 'simply the best'. The computer will be used to process seismic data for oil exploration, help design aerospace vehicles, and keep track of the interest on China's U.S. debt portfolio.
"What is scary about this is that the U.S. dominance in high-performance computing is at risk," said suspiciously named Virginia Polytechnic Institute supercomputer expert Wu-chun Feng. "One could argue that this hits the foundation of our economic future." To which we can only add 'duh'.
Not everyone, however, is all that impressed.
"Hey, they're using components manufactured by Intel and Nvidia," said Samuel J. Palmisano, CEO of the formerly respected IBM. "And what's this nonsense about 1.2 petaflops? That sounds like a made-up word to me. Of course if it's not, we're in real trouble."

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