US' Titan supercomputer will dwarf China's Tianhe-1A

Not long after the US was usurped by China as the owner of the world’s fastest supercomputer a new project titled Titan will see the country once again regain the title, barring any similar announcements overseas.

The Department of Energy has funded the building of the $100 million supercomputer that on completion will be a full eight times faster than the Tianhe-1A Chinese effort that grabbed headlines, and the top spot, back in October 2010.

Cray Computer will take on the construction of the machine that will be used to calculate complex energy systems, capable of doing 20,000 trillion calculations per seconds, or 20 petaflops, a vast increase on the 2.5 petaflops managed by the Chinese computer.

Of course to explain such large numbers there is always a mindboggling and ultimately meaningless comparison, this time courtesy of msnbc, so here goes – apparently the might of the Titan is such that it would take 120 billion people with 120 billion calculators 50 years to do what the supercomputer can in just one.

In order to combine the processing power of XT3, 4 and 5 processor boxes that will enable such powerful calculating, the computer will use the Gemini XE interconnect configured in a 3D torus topology rather than as an array.

The machine will be housed in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee alongside what was once the world’s fastest machine, the Jaguar, which once upon a time lead the field with 1.759 petaflops.

It is thought that the machine, which could feature a graphic display unit courtesy of Nvidia, will be ready for the first stage of its delivery at the end of the year, meaning that if there are no similar plans from the Chinese it could officially regain the crown for the US when the second stage is complete in 2012.

China meanwhile recently announced that it would begin to develop its own supercomputer processors as the competition between the two superpowers continues.