The name of China’s newest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, translates to Milky Way 2. It’s a fitting moniker, maybe even a modest one. There are an estimated 400 billion stars in our galaxy. The Tianhe-2 can run a million times as many calculations per second as there are stars in the Milky Way. Tianhe-2 is now the fastest computer on Earth, doubling the speed of its American rival, Titan—and it arrived two years ahead of schedule. Moore’s Law may not apply to chips anymore, but thanks to improving interconnects, evolving architecture, and ingenious software to exploit massively parallel processing, elite computing continues along an exponential trajectory.
Last week, a throng of computer geeks descended on snowy Utah to show off, admire, and debate the future of the fastest computers on the planet. And of course, to… read more