NVIDIA has plenty to worry about in the consumer segment as it find itself yet again a generation behind AMD's latest graphics cards. However, the company may simply be quietly divesting itself of its consumer market share by instead focusing on commercial GPU computing sales.
The graphics processor maker revealed today at HPC 2010 China an incredible new supercomputer, built using NVIDIA's GPUs which support CUDA, a C-driven technology that allows for the implementation of parallel computing code on the GPU. The new supercomputer is named Tianhe-1a. It is located at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Tianjin, China and is fully operational.
With a total computing power of 2.507 petaflops, as determined by the LINPACK benchmark which solves a dense system of linear equations, China's new supercomputer is the most powerful one in the world.
And NVIDIA's real bragging rights come when the power consumption is discussed. By using GPUs instead of purely CPUs to fuel its calculations, the installation's power footprint is cut from an estimated 12 MW to 4.04 MW, saving enough electricity to power 5,000 homes a year.
Guangming Liu, chief of National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin comments, "The performance and efficiency of Tianhe-1A was simply not possible without GPUs. The scientific research that is now possible with a system of this scale is almost without limits; we could not be more pleased with the results."
The supercomputer is composed of 7,168 NVIDIA Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs. If it were only using CPUs it would also require twice the floor space, as it would require 50,000 CPUs to match the combined performance of the GPUs+CPUs.
China is offering open access to computing time on the supercomputer, but it's unclear whether Chinese researchers will be given preference over foreign ones.
With the addition of the new supercomputer, China now has two of the three most powerful supercomputers in the world. The third most powerful one -- previously in second place -- was the Nebulae supercomputer located in Shenzhen, which also uses NVIDIA's Tesla GPUs. It has a peak capacity of 1.271 petaflops in LINPACK.
Tianhe-1a kicks an American computer out of the top spot. The Jaguar supercomputer built by Cray at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now only the world's second most powerful computer. That machine, powered by its thousands of Opteron cores, posted 1.75 petaflop LINPACK performance.