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China builds petaflop supercomputer without AMD, Intel or Nvidia

Goes it alone
Mon Oct 31 2011, 13:03

COMMUNIST China has built its first supercomputer using chips designed and manufactured in China instead of relying on AMD, Intel or Nvidia.

China's new Sunway Bluelight MPP was installed in the country's National Supercomputer Center in Jinan in September, with estimates pegging the cluster somewhere around the petaflop mark. The cluster is made up of 8,700 Shenwei SW1600 processors, which are completely designed and manufactured in China.

China is no stranger to high performance computing (HPC). Last year the Dawning Nebulae cluster managed to take the runner-up spot on the prestigious TOP500 list, powered by Nvidia's Tesla boards. Later in the year the Chinese Tianhe-1A took the top spot, again powered by a mix of CPUs and GPUs.

However China's past success in the HPC arena has been down to good old fashioned American technology. The chips might have been baked in China but the design was done by US-based firms. The 8,700 Shenwei SW1600 processors represent the country's first comprehensive design and construction effort to build a large scale HPC cluster.

Since the TOP500 list and supercomputers in general are often viewed as objects of national pride, it's no surprise that China wants to produce its own supercomputer. While the Shenwei cluster isn't quite ready to usurp Japan's K-Computer, few will bet against China heading the TOP500 list with its own chips before too long. µ


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