Eideard

China unveils supercomputer based on their own chips

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China has made its first supercomputer based on Chinese microprocessor chips, an advance that surprised high-performance computing specialists in the United States.

The announcement was made this week at a technical meeting held in Jinan, China, organized by industry and government organizations. The new machine, the Sunway BlueLight MPP, was installed in September at the National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province in eastern China.

The Sunway system, which can perform about 1,000 trillion calculations per second — a petaflop — will probably rank among the 20 fastest computers in the world. More significantly, it is composed of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors, designed at a Chinese computer institute and manufactured in Shanghai.

Currently, the Chinese are about three generations behind the state-of-art chip making technologies used by world leaders such as the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan…

Dr. Jack Dongarra said the Sunway’s theoretical peak performance was about 74 percent as fast as the fastest United States computer — the Jaguar supercomputer at the Department of Energy facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, made by Cray. That machine is currently the third fastest on the list.

…Dr. Dongarra said it was intriguing that the power requirements of the new Chinese supercomputer were relatively modest — about one megawatt, according to reports from the technical conference. The Tianhe supercomputer consumes about four megawatts and the Jaguar about seven.

And as usual, an advancement in computer design in one nation prompts advancement in another. It’s what competition is about. When it’s an advancement from a surprising source – though why this is a surprise I don’t know – even better. It extends the number of competitors.

Only ideological fossils will be upset over the news.

And kudos to another wordpress.com blogger for beating everyone to the street with this story.

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

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