World Challenges U.S. for Fastest Computer

Dennis Faas's picture

An Indian computer has been ranked the fourth-fastest in the world. It's the first time India has even cracked the top 100 in speed rankings.

Computers from Sweden and Germany are among five new entries in the top ten, which was previously dominated by US-built machines.

The list was announced at the SuperComputing 07 conference in Reno, Nevada. It's the 30th edition of the list, which comes out every six months and is compiled by experts from universities in Tennessee and Germany and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in California. (Source:

The Indian machine is codenamed EKA (which means number 'one' in India's Sanskrit language) and is produced by Hewlett Packard. It's installed at the Computational Research Laboratories in the Indian city of Pune.

Subramaniam Ramadorai, who heads the facility's parent company Tata, says EKA has many practical uses. "[It] will have a direct affect on the lives of Indians, especially in areas such as earthquake and Tsunami modelling, modellings of the economy and potential for drug design."

Horst Simon, one of the list's authors, said India has huge potential as a supercomputing nation. "India is very well known for having great software engineers and great mathematicians," he told Computerworld magazine. (Source:

First place on the list still belongs to BlueGene/L, an IBM computer used to maintain the safety of the US nuclear weapons stock. The system has consistently been the world's fastest since November 2004 and is now capable of running at 478 teraflops. This means it can perform 478 trillion calculations a second. (EKA runs at just under 118 teraflops.)

IBM dominates the list, behind 232 of the top 500 computers. Its newest supercomputer, BlueGene/P, is second in the list at 167 teraflops. The company hopes to eventually develop this model to run at a petaflop (one thousand trillion calculations per second), considered a key milestone in computer technology. (Source:

Appearing on the list is great for prestige but, as Mr Ramadorai's comments illustrate, it's the practical applications for such 'supercomputers' which are most exciting.

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