China has stolen America's chip-laden crown for building the world's fastest supercomputer. The National University of Defence Technology created the Tianhe-1A PC using American chips from Intel and Nvidia, and it supposedly solves maths problems 29 million times faster than 1976's supercomputer.
The computer, which has over 7000 M2050 graphics cards from Nvidia at a cost of $US2500 each and 14,336 processors from Intel, is under lock and key with the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Education prior to its big unveil later today.
Why does a 2.507-petaflop supercomputer warrant governmental expense like that? It boils down to national pride, with the supercomputer race being extremely competitive. The US' fastest supercomputer is housed in a laboratory in Tennessee, where it's been since 2004 when they toppled Japan off the top of the pile. [NYT, Reuters, Nvidia]