China’s Supercomputer Is Shut Down After Tianjin Explosion

The Tianhe-1A was just kilometers from the epicenter of the blast.

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Aug 14 2015, 12:05pm

Image: National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin

Following the deadly twin chemical factory explosions late Wednesday in China, which have so far left at least 50 dead in the port city of Tianjin, researchers have taken precautions with one technological asset.

Chinese news publication Xinhuanet reports that on Wednesday, Liu Guangming, the director of the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, shut down the supercomputer Tianhe-1A, which was just kilometers from the blast's epicenter.

Though Tianhe-1A continued to run smoothly post-blast, the shockwaves from the twin explosions caused windows to shatter and the ceiling to collapse at the National Supercomputing Center.

Xinhuanet, citing Guangming, reported that the supercomputer and its database had remained intact owing to its location in a specially reinforced computer room. However, careful not to take any security precautions, Guangming and his staff decided to shut down the machine 30 minutes after the blast due to "security reasons," according to Xinhuanet.

The Tianhe-1A is housed at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin. It was developed by the Chinese National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and was recognized as the world's fastest computing system in 2010. It is one of the world's few petascale computers (a system capable of one quadrillion floating point operations per second), and is said to have the processing power of 175,000 laptops combined.

The supercomputer has been used for scientific research and weather forecasting, as well as for military purposes. The Tianhe-2 housed in the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou currently holds the title as fastest supercomputer in the world.