Chinese Tianhe-2 Supercomputer Becomes World’s Fastest Supercomputer

Intel Xeon “Ivy Bridge-EP” and Xeon Phi Power World’s Top Supercomputer

by Anton Shilov
06/18/2013 | 11:23 PM

Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2), a supercomputer developed by China’s national university of defense technology, is the world’s new No. 1 system with a performance of 33.86PFLOPS on the Linpack benchmark, according to the 41st edition of the Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.


Built for the national supercomputing center in Guangzhou, China, the "Milky Way 2" system is powered by 32 000 of the upcoming 12-core Intel Xeon “Ivy Bridge-EP” processors E5-2600 v2, and 48 000 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, with a total system power of 17.8MW. With a a combined total of 3 120 000 computing cores, Tianhe-2 operates at a peak performance of 54.9PFLOPS (54.9 quadrillion floating point operations per second), more than twice the performance of the top rated system from the last edition of the Top500 list in November 2012.

The Tianhe-2 system uses "neo-heterogeneous architecture," whereby the hardware architecture has multiple classes of compute capabilities that are accessed by a common programming model, streamlining development and optimization processes – an advantage not possible when using a combination of CPUs and GPU accelerators.

“Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part. That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese,” said Jack Dongarra, the editor of top 500, who toured the Tianhe-2 development facility in May.

Tianhe-2 will be deployed at the national supercomputer center in Guangzho, China, by the end of the year. The surprise appearance of Tianhe-2, two years ahead of the expected deployment, marks China’s first return to the No. 1 position since November 2010, when Tianhe-1A was the top system.