The Tianhe-2 supercomputer, also known as the Milkyway-2 (Jack Dongarra)

The Tianhe-2 supercomputer, also known as the Milkyway-2
(Jack Dongarra)

Oh China, must you continue to outperform the United States technologically?

Admittedly, China deserves to explicate its technological ingenuity considering in 2008, their estimated domestic product was expected to reach almost $4 trillion dollars. Of course we all remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics and China’s mind-blowing display of screens, people, and other fascinating attention-drawers. An estimated $42 billion dollars was used to develop the two-week sports spectacle.

In lieu of the nation’s stunning performance, China’s National University of Defense Technology unveiled the Tianhe-2 supercomputer, also known as the Milkyway-2. The electronic behemoth performs at a lightening 30.7 petaflops!  The United States Department of Energy’s supercomputer is miniscule in comparison to the Tianhe-2 and only operates at a mere 17.6 petaflops per second, which is the United States’ fastest computer.

China’s ability to completely dominate the computer world puts a lot of pressure on other countries to supersede the high expectations set by China. Jack Dongarra, a professor at the University of Tennessee believes the United States may fall behind global competitors in the current race to build a supercomputer. According to Dongarra, “Perhaps this is a wake up call”. After all, the 1957 launch of Sputnik made Americans uncomfortable knowing that they were not the first to build an aircraft space-ready but ultimately increased everyone’s technological awareness.

Critics believe the Milkyway 2 will land a spot on the prestigious Top 500 supercomputer list; in 2010, China was on the top of the list with its Tianhe-1 supercomputer. Recently, the United States finally earned a spot on the list in November after falling to Germany, Japan, and China in the previous years.

In conclusion, the race to build the world’s fastest supercomputer may increase global competitiveness.