Tianhe-1A (China)
Tianhe-1A (China)

Just six months ago, the Tianhe-1A was the fastest supercomputer on the planet. The fact that the K Computer is three times faster than the Tianhe-1A shows just how rapidly things change in this space.

Located at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, China, the Tianhe-1A is capable of achieving speeds of 2.57 quadrillion of calculations per second.

It uses just 14,336 central processing units. That's because, unlike the K Computer, it has 7,168 NVIDIA graphics processors to accelerate computation. That saves a lot of floor space -- without the GPUs, the Tianhe-1A would require 50,000 CPUs, which is still less than the nearly 70,000 CPUs in the K Computer.

Like the K Computer, the Tianhe-1A is open for researchers to use for large-scale scientific computations. It is currently being used for drug discovery, hurricane and tsunami modeling, cancer research, car design, and studying the formation of galaxies.

The fourth most powerful system on the list is also Chinese.

Last updated June 20 2011: 12:05 PM ET
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