A PC is better than a Supercomputer

If you have been hoping that the day your personal computer is replaced by a supercomputer, your life will change, think again. Yes, a supercomputer may seem a promising technology, but it may not be of much utility for you in routine life. It is not practical to run mini tasks on a supercomputer and spend heavy money for its processing abilities. You will be better off doing the same task on your personal computer. Let us analyze how.


China’s Tianhe-2 is the world’s fastest supercomputer with a performance of 33.86 petaflop per second which means quadrillions of calculations per second. It has been developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in partnership with the company Inspur. The computer is expected to be used for simulations, analysis and government applications. Tianhe-2 has 16000 computer nodes each consisting of two Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon processors and three Xeon Phi chips with a total of 3120000 cores. Each of these 16000 nodes have 88 GB memory out of which 64 GB is used by Ivy Bridge processors and 8 GB by Xeon Phi processors. Its total CPU and processor memory is 1.375 TiB or 1.34 PiB.

In spite of all these qualities, Tianhe-2 may not be of much use to you in comparison to your PC with a 1TB disk space and 1 GB RAM. There are valid reasons. Firstly, why would you spend a huge amount of money in doing complex calculations on a supercomputer which a slower machine can do for cheap. Secondly, even for fields such as high energy physics, Tianhe-2 can be choked due to complex data which may affect its performance. Thirdly, supercomputers such as Tianhe-2 are designed for completing certain specific tasks, and cannot be used for multiple utilities such as word processing and entertainment, which is a usual case in PCs. It may take months, if not years for researchers to train a supercomputer for completing one type of tasks.

Supercomputer Tianhe-2 is expected to be used in nuclear weapons and therefore US recognized it as a security threat. Intel has been advised to stop exporting its microprocessors to China in view of this perceived threat. So, all in all, you should be happy using your personal computer instead of imagining a supercomputer to assist you with faster processing.

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