No matter what side of the Google-China shouting match you fall on, you can't help but admire the country's drive towards bigger and badder processing power. China's Tianhe-1A, capable of 2.57 petaflops per second, held the crown as the most powerful supercomputer in the world until Japan's "K Computer" blew away the competition with 8.16 petaflops last month. China's newest supercomputer is the Tianhe-1A's baby brother, creatively named the Tianhe-1.
The Tianhe-1 entered service in the Changsa supercomputer center over the past weekend. With a theoretical max speed of 1.1 petaflops, the new computer doesn't run quite as fast as the Tianhe-1A, but if its Chinese handlers feel like rigging it with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 and a badass gaming mouse, it could handle Crysis 2 in its sleep. Computerworld reports that the machine should be running at a theoretical 3 petaflops by October, which would make the Tianhe-1 the fifth-most powerful computer on the planet.
"It will be used to perform simulations that will forecast the weather, help with disaster prevention and aid industrial fields including automobile manufacturing and medical research," Computerworld says.
So what's a petaflop? It's a unit of measurement for processor floating point calculations; 1 petaflop equals one quadrillion floating point operations per second.