China builds a fully homegrown supercomputer

The Chinese have (arguably) the fastest scientific supercomputer in the world, and it's made entirely out of domestic parts, including the processors. Obviously, the US is not all too happy about it.

Why arguably? Because according to some, it's far from being the fastest. But we'll get to that a bit later. Here's the official news.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese are now topping the list of 500 fastest scientific computers – the Top500, with their Sunway TaihuLight machine.

The Chinese were basically forced to use domestic products to build this machine, as Intel was blocked by a US export ban enforced last year. The ban was set up citing links to “nuclear explosive activities.”

The machine is capable of 93 petaflops (quadrilions of calculations a second), placing it firmly above the US.

These results are important as such supercomputers are often used for national security and economic development. What's also interesting is that China has more supercomputers on the list than the US – 167 to 165.

Having such a computer, and having it built ecsclusively from domestic parts, is big news. However, some argue that the Sunway TaihuLight is far from the fastests. That basically depends on the benchmark used to measure the computer's power.

These 93 petaflops were recorded on the LINPACK benchmark. According to HPCWire.com, another benchmark – HPCG, reported only .371 petaflops.

“The HPCG performance at only 0.3 per cent of peak performance shows the weakness of the architecture with slow memory and modest interconnect performance,” HPCWire cited the Top500 author, Jack Dongarra, saying.

“So for many “real” applications the performance will be no where near the peak performance rate.”

Image source: Shutterstock/Carol Gauthier