World's fastest computer brings incalculable benefits

08:31, December 08, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 


A scientist conducts a system test of supercomputer Tianhe-1, the predecessor of Tianhe-1A, in Tianjin, in this file photo taken in December 2009. The computer was capable of making a quadrillion (a thousand billion) floating point operations per second. (Xinhua Photo)

Tianhe-1A makes fast work of ensuring safety of national projects. Zhou Wa in Beijing reports.

Wang Litao read the numbers on his computer screen and sat back, delighted.

The researcher, who was studying the damage Xiluodu Dam could withstand in an earthquake, had waited a month for the outcome of his team's complex simulations - but after entering his equation into Tianhe-1A, his results took just one hour.

Using the fastest supercomputer in the world, experts like Wang at the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) can help ensure the hydroelectric dam is stronger and safer for the millions who live along Jinsha River.

"The process has been shortened significantly allowing us to offer and analyze more solutions in the same amount of time," said Wang. "We can offer solutions faster to improve safety."

The dam is one of thousands of projects that will benefit from Tianhe-1A (named after the Milky Way), from research in geology, meteorology and medicine, to commercial design, construction and manufacturing.

"It could even save people's lives," said Wang, who explained that, in a landslide, the supercomputer could calculate where reinforcements are needed and what areas should be evacuated.

Xiluodu Dam, which is being constructed on Southwest China's Sichuan-Yunnan provincial boundary, is a key part of ambitious plans to build China's second largest hydropower plant. Once in operation, it will generate 12,600 megawatts of electricity.

As the area is prone to earthquakes, however, engineers must ensure it can survive a major eruption. If not, the water in its reservoir will flood every nearby city and village.

"What's worse, a flood from the upper reaches could even lead to the bursting of the Three Gorges Dam," said Wang, threatening the lives and property of 400 million inhabitants along the Yangtze.

"To avoid this disaster, we need to build a safer dam," he added.

The large capacity of Tianhe-1A - 2.57 petaflops, or quadrillion calculations per second - allows researchers to solve equations with far more variables, making their measurement more accurate.

Even without testing the supercomputer to the full, Wang was able to use a program that answered an equation with 500,000 unknown numbers.

Developed by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Hunan's provincial capital, Changsha, Tianhe-1A is also a boon for big business.

As in the case of Xiluodu, experts say the machine will help workers in commercial research and development departments find ways to improve the precision and manufacture of products, giving them a greater competitive edge.

Tianjin Motor Dies Co Ltd, which designs and manufactures car body panels and large stamping parts, is the largest of its kind in China and sells to auto giants like General Motors, Ford and BMW.

After employing Tianhe-1A to simulate its stamping process, "we expect to raise our market share" and "make the transition from offering low-end to the high-end products", explained Chen Huibin, one of Tianjin Motor Dies' experts in computer-aided engineering.

Thanks to the simulation, the company will save at least 450,000 yuan, or 3 percent of costs in producing automobile side panels.

"It's a large saving," said Chen, "because our profit margins are only about 20-percent profit."

Hu Qingfeng, deputy chief designer of Tianhe-1A, which is based at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, said the supercomputer will also speed up manufacture of aircraft's core units using Chinese intellectual property.

Engineers can simulate wind tunnel trials and study the combustion process inside aircraft engines.

By Zhou Wa, China Daily
【1】 【2】 【3】

(Editor:梁军)

  • Do you have anything to say?

双语词典
dictionary

  
Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • A member of the media takes a look at a Bluecar, an electric-powered car made by French company Bollore, at a media presentation in Vaucresson, west of Paris, yesterday. The Bluecars have a range of 250 kilometers in urban use and a maximum speed of 130km per hour, and will be available to rent in the streets of Paris under the name of Autolib. The four-seater Bluecars will be positioned at 1,200 stations in the French capital, where customers can pick them up and drop them off, and will be available around the clock. Users must have a valid driver's license and pay a subscription fee to borrow one of the vehicles.
  • Tourists watch a performance about an ancient court trial. (Photo/Xinhua)
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (4th L, front) shakes hands with outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (1st R, front) as Vice President Joe Biden (3rd L, front), Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (2nd L, front), and Army General Martin Dempsey (1st L, front) look on during the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Change of Responsibility Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, the United States, Sept. 30, 2011. Army General Martin Dempsey succeeded Mike Mullen to become the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff on Friday. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
  • Chinese national flag guards escort the flag across the Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2011. More than 120,000 people gathered at the Tian'anmen Square to watch the national flag raising ceremony at dawn on Oct. 1, in celebration of the 62th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (Xinhua/Luo Xiaoguang)
  • Pedestrians walk along the barrier set by police on Wall Street in New York, the United States, Sept. 30, 2011. Police set up the fences to keep away the demonstrators of the Occupy Wall Street campaign. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
  • Chinese Navy soldiers hold an evening party marking the upcoming 62nd National Day aboard Chinese Navy hospital ship "Peace Ark" in the Pacific on Sept. 28, 2011. The Chinese National Day falls on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
Hot Forum Discussion