Supercomputer shut down due to China blasts

Tianhe-1A, located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, is just kilometers from the blast center.


When a warehouse full of explosives blew up in a massive fireball in Tianjin, China on Wednesday, the technicians supervising the Tianhe-1A supercomputer felt the ground shake violently even though they were in a hardened facility more than a kilometer away from Wednesday’s explosion.

As a security precaution, staff at the facility decided to manually shut down Tianhe-1A thirty minutes after the blast had occurred, according to Xinhua.

It was recognized as the world’s fastest computing system in 2010.

The shockwaves due to the blasts shattered windows at the centre and and led to the collapse of ceilings inside the building, according to the centre’s staff.

This video from IDG News provides a rare look at the Tianhe-1 supercomputer in China.

The deadly explosion that rocked the Chinese city of Tianjin has caused the country to shut down a nearby supercomputer, also one of the fastest in the world. The accomplishment also represented one of the earliest petascale machines and China’s second (after Nebulae).

As Yang Xuejun, Tianhe-1A’s chief designer and a professor at the National University of Defense Technology, commented back in 2010: “the key to the high performance of Tianhe-1A is the hybrid architecture of the integration of the CPUs and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units)”. Talking about the supercomputer Tianhe-1A, it can perform 2.57 quadrillion computing operations per second. “Tianhe” is the Chinese word for the Milky Way constellation. Both machines were developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, based in Changsha. The supercomputer is safe, as it has been placed in a reinforced computer room.


Tianhe-1 weighs 150 tonnes and covers an area of 1,000 square metres. “Satellite photos suggest a blast radius of almost 2 miles”. Ltd, housed toxic chemicals and other risky materials.

At least 50 dead after blasts rock Tianjin