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TECH SPACE
World's fastest supercomputer powered by Chinese chip technology
by Brooks Hays
Frankfurt, Germany (UPI) Jun 20, 2016


World's fastest supercomputer entirely made in China: survey
Beijing (AFP) June 20, 2016 - China has built the world's fastest supercomputer using locally made microchips, a survey said Monday, the first time the country has taken the top spot without using US technology.

The Sunway TaihuLight machine is twice as fast as the previous number one, which was built in China with chips from US firm Intel, the Top500 survey of supercomputers said on its website www.top500.org.

China also has more top-ranked supercomputers than the US for the first time since the survey began, with 167 compared to 165.

Located at China's national supercomputer centre in the eastern city of Wuxi, the Sunway TaihuLight will be used for climate modelling and life science research.

Its performance ends "speculation that China would have to rely on Western technology to compete effectively in the upper echelons of supercomputing," the survey's website said.

The supercomputers on the Top500 list, which is produced twice a year, are rated based on speed in a benchmark test by experts from Germany and the US.

Of the top ten fastest computers, two are in China, with four in the US, the ranking said. Others are in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

China has poured money into big-ticket science and technology projects as it seeks to become a high-tech leader.

It plans to open the world's largest radio telescope in southeastern China this year, state-media reported.

But despite some gains the country's scientific output still lags behind, and its universities generally fare poorly in global rankings.

The reign of American-made semiconductors may be over. China recently unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer. Unlike China's previous supercomputers, this one is powered by Chinese chip technology.

Sunway TaihuLight, developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology, is powered by a ShenWei SW26010 processor, manufactured at the National High Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, in Shanghai. The computer is located at the government-funded National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China.

Sunway TaihuLight took the top spot on the new list of the world's fastest computers. The list is compiled biannually by TOP500, a research organization dedicated to tracking advances in supercomputer technology.

"As the first number one system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems," Guangwen Yang, director of the National Supercomputing Center, told TOP500 News.

"It's not based on an existing architecture. They built it themselves," Jack Dongarra, a professor of computer scientists at the University of Tennessee, told Bloomberg News. "This is a system that has Chinese processors."

Dongarra created the software, a linear algebra algorithm called LINPACK, TOP500 uses to measure the speed of supercomputers.

Sunway TaihuLight earned a LINPACK score of 93 petaflops -- three times faster than the previous fastest, Tianhe-2, a Chinese supercomputer powered by American-made Intel processors. The record-breaking score means Sunway TaihuLight can process 93 quadrillion calculations per second.

Sunway TaihuLight has 40,960 nodes, each with a SW26010 chip, giving the supercomputer 125 peak petaflops across its more than 10 million cores.

Dongarra says Sunway TaihuLight's architecture is impressive. The complex simulations the supercomputer is currently running for research in the fields of weather modeling and climate science, Dongarra told TOP500, are proof the machine isn't just a stunt computer designed to notch a record-breaking LINPACK score.

The Chinese computer engineers responsible for Sunway TaihuLight are scheduled to formally present their new supercomputer on Tuesday at the International Supercomputing Conference, currently being held in Frankfurt, Germany.


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