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Tianhe-2, the most powerful computer of the world

September 2nd, 2013

According to the well known top500.org, list of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, today August 2013, the world’s most powerful computer is Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2). This supercomputer is installed at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China and is the technological successor of Tianhe-1A, installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, that already was No. 1 on the top500 list in November 2010. The top500.org list updates twice a year.

Tianhe-2 consists of 16,000 nodes each of which has 2 Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge processors and 3 Xeon Phi co-processors, to accelerate the calculations. This makes a total of 3,120,000 computing cores, 384,000 Xeon Ive Bridge cores and 2,736,000 cores in the Phi coprocessors. It is a novelty that it has 3 coprocessors per node, usually there are one or two. These cores provide to Tianhe-2 a theoretical peak performance running mathematical operations of 54.9  PFLOPS (Peta = 10 ^ 15 Floating-point Operation Per Second, 1,000,000,000,000,000 mathematical operations per second) and with the LINPACK benchmark the real performance reaches 33 .9 PFLOPS, which almost doubles the previous record of the Titan supercomputer located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tenessee.

Tianhe-2 Supercomputer

Tianhe-2 Supercomputer

The interconnection network between the nodes, namely TH Express-2, is a proprietary design firstly installed in Tianhe-2 and tries to avoid communications bottlenecks thanks to its bidirectional bandwidth of 16 GB/s, low latency and fat tree topology. Tianhe-2 uses the Kylin operating system based on Linux optimized for high performance computing and also developed by the NUDT. Being based on a standard Linux  Kylin gives great flexibility to run many codes without specifically reprogram them.

Tianhe-2 consumes 17.8 MW, which is roughly equivalent to the consumption of 27,000 families. Nevertheless, it is energetically a very efficient supercomputer given the high number of FLOPS per watt it obtains. In the green500.org list of the energetically most efficient computers of the world Tianhe-2 is in the 32th position with 1,902 MFLOPS/W.

According to the NUDT Tianhe-2 will be dedicated to simulations, analysis and national security.

Most outstanding data

Model Own design
Nunber of cores
3.120.000: 384.000 Xeon Ivy-Bridge cores y 2.736.000 Phi cores
Processor Intel Xeon E-2692 with 12 cores at 2.2 GHz
Coprocessor Intel Phi 31S1P with 57 cores at 1,1 GHz
Interconection TH Express-2
Operative System Kylin
Theoretical FLOPS
54,9 PetaFLOPS
Linpack FLOPS
33.9 PetaFLOPS
Electric power
17.8 MW


 Note: This is a translation of our previous post in spanish “Tianhe-2, el ordenador más potente del mundo“.



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