When computer scientist Jack Dongarra traveled to China in May to see the Tianhe-2 supercomputer, he was ready to be impressed. And the machine, built by the National University of Defense Technology, in Changsha, didn’t disappoint. By early June, Tianhe-2 had demonstrated a peak speed of 33.86 petaflops: some 34 million billion floating point operations per second, far more than what it needed to place first on June’s Top500, a biannual list of the fastest supercomputers, compiled and adjudicated by Dongarra and his colleagues.

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The State of the Transistor in 3 Charts

In 75 years, it’s become tiny, mighty, ubiquitous, and just plain weird

3 min read
A photo of 3 different transistors.

The most obvious change in transistor technology in the last 75 years has been just how many we can make. Reducing the size of the device has been a titanic effort and a fantastically successful one, as these charts show. But size isn’t the only feature engineers have been improving.

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