Home-grown CPUs push Chinese supercomputer to petascale

China has developed its first petascale supercomputing system built entirely from home-grown processors, as it works to move away from dependence on US designed chips.

The system, which is known in English as the 'Sunway BlueLight MPP,' uses 8,704 home-grown Shenwei 1600 processors developed by the Shanghai-based National High Performance Integrated Circuit Design Centre.

In total, the Sunway BlueLight offers a peak performance of 1.07 petaflops and a sustained performance of around 0.79 petaflops, as measured by the Linpack benchmark. If verified, that level of performance would place it firmly near the top of the Top500 list of supercomputers at number 13.

Current holder of thirteenth place, the Lomonosov supercomputer developed by the Moscow State University, is built around Intel's Xeon X5570 and X5670 processors combined with Nvidia's Tesla 2070 GPU, and manages a sustained performance figure of around 0.67 petaflops.

If the performance figures quoted by state-run news agency Xinhua are accurate, it's news that will have industry incumbent Intel worried - and doubly so when comments made by Loongson processor developer Hu Weiwu last year, in which he stated his hopes that "we will be able to sell our China-made CPUs to the west," are taken into account.