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U.s. Challenges China in Supercomputing Race With 180-Petaflop System


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China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer, the fastest in the world.

The United States hopes to surpass China with the 180-petaflop supercomputer it will build.

Credit: Top500.org

The United States, in an attempt to surpass China in the supercomputing arms race, plans to build a 180-petaflop supercomputer called Aurora that will be used mainly for scientific research.

Although Aurora's projected peak performance of 180 petaflops is more than three times the speed of the fastest existing supercomputers, other systems currently are being built to deliver between 150 to 300 petaflops of performance.

Aurora is scheduled to be completed by 2018, and could be one of the fastest supercomputers in the world at that time. Aurora will rely on a design of Cray's next-generation supercomputer code-named Shasta, which provides a faster interconnect than Cray currently provides for supercomputers.

The world's fastest supercomputer today is China's Tianhe-2, which can reach a peak performance of 54.9 petaflops. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Titan supercomputer currently is the second-fastest, but Aurora will be an upgrade over that system.

DOE is awarding $200 million in contracts to Intel and Cray to develop the system. Intel plans on using silicon photonics technology, including the use of light pulses to transport data, to boost Aurora's performance.

From IDG News Service
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