China has made its first supercomputer based on Chinese microprocessor chips, an advance that surprised high-The announcement was made this week at a technical meeting held in Jinan, China, organized by industry and government organizations. The new machine, the Sunway BlueLight MPP, was installed in September at the National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province in eastern China. The Sunway system, which can perform about 1,000 trillion calculations per second — a petaflop — will probably rank among the 20 fastest computers in the world. More significantly, it is composed of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors, designed at a Chinese computer institute and manufactured in Shanghai.
Currently, the Chinese are about three generations behind the state-of-art chip making technologies used by world leaders such as the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. “This is a bit of a surprise,” said Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee and a leader of the Top500 project, a list of the world’s fastest computers. Last fall, another Chinese based supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A, created an international sensation when it was briefly ranked as the world’s fastest, before it was displaced in the spring by a rival Japanese machine, the K Computer, designed by Fujitsu.
But the Tianhe was built from processor chips made by American companies, Intel and Nvidia, though its internal switching system was designed by Chinese computer engineers. Similarly, the K computer was based on Sparc chips, designed at Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley. Dr. Dongarra said the Sunway’s theoretical peak performance was about 74 percent as fast as the fastest United States computer — the Jaguar supercomputer at the Department of Energy facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, made by Cray Inc. That machine is currently the third fastest on the list.