World's Fastest Computer Gets an Upgrade, Breaks Its Own Record

The K Supercomputer. [Photo: Fujitsu]
The K Supercomputer, Credit: Fujitsu
The world's fastest computer, the "K" supercomputer by Fujitsu and RIKEN, will keep its title as by breaking its own speed record. How much number-crunching power are we talking about? It completely smashes the processing power of the world's second- through eight-fastest supercomputers combined, coming in at an astounding 10.51 petaflops. That thoroughly crushes the old record of 8.162 petaflops.

Fujitsu--an information technology company--and RIKEN--a large research institute in Japan--upgraded their K supercomputer with an additional 19,584 CPUs, allowing it to break its own world speed record in the number of calculations the computer can perform per second. The new record is an astounding 10.51 quadrillion calculations per second.

According to Fujitsu the letter "K," the name of the computer, "comes from the Japanese Kanji letter 'Kei' which means ten peta or 10 to the 16th power", or quadrillions of calculations per second. A "FLOP" is the number of floating-point operations per second; in layman's terms, it's the number of instructions the computer can process in a single second. Now that K reached10 petaflops, it holds true to its name.

The supercomputer became the world's fastest back in June 2011, replacing the Tianhe-1A at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin which comes in at a mere 2.51 petaflops. The K supercomputer uses 88,128 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs across 864 computing racks. In June, it only (relatviely speaking) had 68,544 CPUs across 672 computing racks.

Here are the next six fastest computers on the Top500 list from June 2011:

Rank

Computer

Instructions/Second

3 Jaguar (US) 1.75 petaflops
4 National Supercomputing Center, Shenzen (China) 1.27 petaflops
5 Tsubame 2.0 (Japan) 1.19 petaflops
6 Cielo (US) 1.11 petaflops
7 Pleiades(US) 1.09 petaflops
8 Hopper (US) 1.054 petaflops

All seven (2nd-8th place) computers come in at only 9.974 petaflops--still less than the amazing 10.51 petaflops of the K supercomputer. Given its sheer number of CPUs and dominance of the world's other top-performing supercomputers, the K supercomputer is more than likely to hold its number-1 position for some time to come. There's no word yet on what the K supercomputer will be used, for but surely it will be one of our computer overlords when the robot apocalypse comes.

All hail the computer overlords!

[Engadget, Top500, TechOn]

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