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Chinese supercomputer could be world's fastest

China is about to unveil the world's fastest super computer which is powered by 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs and 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs.

The Tianhe-1A supercomputer was built by China's National University of Defense Technology. Its 2.507 petaflops performance should just sneak past the current champion, Cray's 2.3 petaflops Jaguar, located at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee.

Nividia reckons that using a full complement of CPUs rather than its GPUs in the system would have taken up twice as much floor space and consumed three times as much energy.

"The performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs," said Guangming Liu, chief of National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin. "The scientific research that is now possible with a system of this scale is almost without limits; we could not be more pleased with the results."

The new supercomputer will be operated as an 'open access' system, available to other countries outside of China to use for large scale scientific computation, so getting a bit of downtime for a quick game of Crysis 2 is probably out of the question.

Coincidentally, the world's top 500 supercomputer list is released next week. What fortuitous timing.