Chinese scientists have successfully created the largest virtual universe on the world’s fastest computer.
The feat, disclosed to the Chinese public last week, is expected to catapult the country as the global leader in discovering new information in the cosmos.
The gargantuan universe, which beat Switzerland’s record set in June, was created on Sunway TaihuLight, a supercomputer with a processing capacity of up to 124.5 petaflops.
The simulation was five times greater in scale than the record achieved by scientists at the University of Zürich. However, it only ran for just over an hour, while the Swiss operated for 80 hours.
Gao Liang, lead scientist of computational cosmology in the National Astronomical Observatories at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said that they simulated the birth and initial expansion of the universe through the use of 10 trillion digital particles, South China Morning Post reported.
“There were lots of calculations… It must be exhausted,” Gao said of Sunway, which conducted the work at the National Computer Center in Jiangwu.
Sunway utilized 10 million CPU cores, each of which ran multiple instructions. The chips ended up getting hot, but nevertheless remained stable, Gao said.
“This is just a warm-up exercise we still have a long way ahead to get what we want,” Gao stressed, noting that the simulation did not run long enough. “We just got to the point of tens of millions years after the Big Bang. It was still a very young stage for the universe. Most galaxies were not even born.”
However, Gao is hopeful that Sunway’s successor, slated for completion in 2019, will be a better resource for scientists attempting to unlock the mysteries of the universe.
The new supercomputer, set to work alongside Fast, the world’s single largest radio telescope also made in China, is expected to be faster than Sunway by at least 10 times.