What's inside China's newest supercomputer sounds like something out of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon: it's equipped with 32,000 Xeon processors, which are augmented by 48,000 Xeon Phi accelerators and a petabyte of memory for its 33.86 petaflop performance (a quadrillion mathematical calculations per second). But what you need to know is that their supercomputer is two times as fast as ours, and outside of of Intel processors, it's almost entirely Chinese.
Our fastest computer—the Titan at Oak National Labs—is 17.50 petaflops. In other terms, China's supercomputer, the Tianhe-2, is Usain Bolt on the 100 meters at the Olympics, and, well, we're the Americans.
You may not know it, but there is a race between engineers and scientists concerning who can reach a Quintrillion calculations a second, an exoflop, first—and Horst Simon deputy director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, believes it will happen by the end of the decade. But what would anyone need a computer that powerful for, anyway?