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China Now In Possession Of The World's Fastest Supercomputer

By Victor Thomson , Jun 21, 2016 05:20 AM EDT
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TOP500 announced on Monday, June 20, that China has gained the highest rank in computing power by placing more machines than the United States on the list and building the fastest supercomputer in the world with domestic processor chips.

According to Engadget, China's new supercomputer is called the Sunway TaihuLight. On its official website, Top500 has declared that China's supercomputer is the world's fastest. The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer is located in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, at the state-funded Chinese Supercomputing Center.

The machine is a 40,960-node system powered entirely by the 260-core ShenWei 26010 Chinese processors. The processor has been designed by Shanghai High Performance IC Design Center.

The Chinese supercomputer is leading by a wide margin, at 93 petaflops of processing power. The Sunway TaihuLight is being nearly three times more powerful than the previous record-setter, the 33.85-petaflop Tianhe-2.

China's new system runs on a custom Linux variant and uses a custom interconnect format based on PCI Express to link its nodes. The power-efficient machine has a relatively modest 15.3 megawatts of energy consumption.

According to Bloomberg, the fact that the world's fastest supercomputer is powered by Chinese-designed semiconductors is a breakthrough for country's attempts to reduce dependence on imported technology. It is also threat for the first time to U.S. technology dominance.

Jack Dongarra, the creator of the measurement method used by TOP500 and professor at the University of Tennessee, said that this is the first time when China has more systems on the TOP500 list than the U.S.  While the Chinese had no entries in the 2001 list, in the latest they have 167 machines compared with 165 for the U.S.

Dongarra also confirmed that China's supercomputer is not based on an existing architecture. Previous supercomputer winners used processors built on U.S. technology from International Business Machines Corp., Intel Corp. or Sun Microsystems.  

With this venture China shows its determination to replace its dependence on expensive tech imports and build its domestic chip industry. The country may also try to minimize its reliance on U.S. companies for security infrastructure and defense technology. 

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