World’s Fastest Supercomputer is Energy Efficient

June 19, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

The Sunway TaihuLight is a Chinese supercomputer that, as of June 2016, ranks as the fastest supercomputer in the world, with a LINPACK benchmark rating of 93 petaflops. This is nearly three times faster than the previous holder of the record, the Tianhe-2, which ran at 34 petaflops. And the TaihuLight is energy efficient; it draws only 15.3MW of power, less than the 17.8MW used by China's Tianhe-2, the previous record holder,

Where the previous record holder, the Tianhe-2 was built using Intel processors, the TaihuLight uses a total of 40,960 Chinese-designed SW26010 multicore 64-bit RISC processors based on the ShenWei architecture. Each processor chip contains 256 general-purpose processing cores, and an additional 4 auxiliary cores for system management, for a total of 10,649,600 CPU cores across the entire system. The system runs on its own operating system, Raise OS, which is based on Linux.

It’s unclear if the Raise OS makes the power of the TaihuLight accessible to users. When the Tianhe-2 was announced it was criticized for being difficult to use effectively.

"(The Tianhe-2) is at the world's frontier in terms of calculation capacity, but the function of the supercomputer is still way behind the ones in the US and Japan," Chi Xuebin, deputy director of the Computer Network and Information Centre under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted in the South China Morning Post when the previous record holder was announced.

"It's like a giant with a super body but without the software to support its thinking soul," Chi said. Some users would need years or even a decade to write the necessary code, he concluded at the time.