World's new fastest supercomputer powered by gaming tech

Tom Senior at

The TITAN system based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has usurped IBM's sequoia to become the fastest supercomputer in the world, the Economist report. It took three years to build 200 cabinet mega-PC, which has managed to boost ahead of its closest rival with some help from the tech we use in our graphics cards every day.

Titan replaces Oak Ridge's Jaguar computer, a powerful system that ran on traditional CPU chips. Titan uses GPUs to reach greater speeds more efficiently. "Titan’s peak performance is more than 20 petaflops – or 20 million billion floating-point operations per second – about 90 percent of which comes from 18,688 NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU accelerators," they say on the Nvidia site.

Titan is an "open-science" system, which means research and industry groups can bid for calculation time to solve the most pressing questions of our generation, like where do all the spare socks go, and how do separate cables manage to become irreversibly entwined the moment you leave them unwatched in a drawer. Titan's closest competitor, Seqouia, is busy running nuclear weapons simulations for the US National Nuclear Security Administration, which means it's out of bounds to those of us who want to set some serious benchmarks.

“Science and technology have always been our primary goal, and Titan is a groundbreaking tool that will allow researchers worldwide to leverage GPU-accelerated computing to make unparalleled breakthroughs,” says Oak Ridge's associate lab director for computational sciences, Jeff Nichols, “The new Tesla GPU accelerators offer the performance and energy efficiency that enable Titan to scale to unprecedented performance levels without consuming the energy equivalent of a small city.”

But what if we were to use the energy equivalent of a small city to overclock it? WHAT THEN? I've got about 55p in my pocket if anyone wants to go in on a bid.

Thanks to Tom Foster for the heads up.


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