China has created a supercomputer that boasts more than double the speed of any system in the US. According to Computer World, the supercomputer can reach speeds of up to 54.9 petaflops. It has been built with Intel's chips, but also includes Chinese technology. The country's government has spent about $290 million building the computer.

Jack Dongarra, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, has published a detailed description of China's computer, which you can check out in this PDF. His report is based on a briefing at an HPC conference last month in Changsha by an official from the National University of Defense Technology.

The Tianhe-2 is now the world's fastest supercomputer (image credit: Jack Dongarra)

The Tianhe-2 is now the world's fastest supercomputer (image credit: Jack Dongarra)

The supercomputer, dubbed Tianhe-2 or the Milkyway-2, has 32,000 multicore Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge chips. It also has 48,000 Xeon Phi chips, which is a co-processor based on Intel's Many Integrated Core architecture. Each of the Xeon Phi processors is capable of more than a teraflop of speed. For the sake of reference, a petaflop equals one quadrillion floating-point operations per second.

The supercomputer is a successor to the Tianhe-1A supercomputer, which was crowned the world's fastest computer in November 2010. US President Barack Obama had noted at the time that because of the escalation in computing power, the US was facing another “Sputnik moment”.

Before this, the fastest computer in the world was a system made by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Cray's system is capable of speeds of up to 17.59 petaflops.

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