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Titan named world's fastest supercomputer with help of Nvidia GPU underpinnings

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Titan supercomputer
Titan supercomputer

One year after the US Department of Energy awarded Cray and Nvidia with a $97 million agreement to create the world's fastest supercomputer, the result of their work — dubbed Titan — has taken the number one slot on the biannual TOP500 list. In other words, the government got its money's worth.

Containing over 560,640 processors, Titan reigned supreme over other ultra-powered computers by hitting 17.59 sustained petaflops on Linpack's benchmark scale. That bested the performance of its nearest adversary: Sequoia, the first supercomputer armed with over one million cores, dropped to second place with 16.32 petaflop/s. For some perspective, these measurements represent quadrillions of calculations per second. Your average desktop PC this is not.

That's one very, very powerful machine

Operated out of Tennessee, Titan attains its impressive figures thanks in large part to Nvidia's fastest-ever Tesla K20X GPU accelerators — 18,688 of them, to be precise. AMD provides the CPU chipsets that work alongside those GPUs, a notable departure from other supercomputers that still rely on Intel as a mainstay for internals. And while Intel's architecture has been outdone in this case, the company doesn't (yet) need to fear a sea change: 76 percent of TOP500 systems still feature Intel hardware. Titan's horsepower will be used for academic and government studies in the years to come. For a look at how other entrants fared on the TOP500 list, hit the source below.