The world’s fastest computer is Chinese and has no US chips

A Chinese supercomputer which was designed from the composition of indigenous Chinese chip technology has been officially declared the fastest in the world. This particularly typifies the giant strides China has recorded in the design of these systems, as well as the thinning dependence of China on US semiconductor technology.

The world's fastest computer is Chinese and has no US chips


The Sunway TaihuLight snatches the first position from its predecessor which is equally housed in China: the Tianhe-2 with the new top design more than three times faster than the former number one. This new design boasts the capacity to perform some 93 quadrillion calculations per second (which is also seen as petaflops) and is by estimation five times more powerful than the fastest US system, with the US system now ranked in third position globally.

The TaihuLight is made up of about 41,000 chips, each rocking 260 processor cores. This runs into a total of 10.65 million cores, as against the 560,000 cores in America’s top machine. As to the dimension of memory, it is quite light on its feet relatively with just 1.3 petabytes deployed for the entire machine. The implication is that it is absurdly ( in the positive sense) more energy efficient, drinking in just 15.3 megawatts of power for use — this is by far less than 17.8 megawatts used by the 33-petaflop Tianhe-2.

Another aspect of this development much more mind-blowing than its specs, is the astonishing reality that the TaihuLight was wholly designed from Chinese semiconductors. “It’s not based on an existing architecture. They built it themselves,” Jack Dongarra, a professor at the University of Tennessee and creator of the measurement system used to rank the world’s supercomputers, had explained to Bloomberg. “This is a system that has Chinese processors.”

The last supercomputer holding the number spot down, China’s Tianhe-2, was designed from US-made Intel processors. There were plans in progress to make an upgrade to the performance of the Tianhe-2, but the US threw a spanner in such works when the US government in April 2015 slapped an export ban on all high-performance computing chips to China. The Department of Commerce have the explanation that the export of such delicate technology was “acting contrary” to American national security as well as US foreign interests, adding in suggestions that an earlier Chinese supercomputer — the Tianhe-1A — had played sensitive roles after being “used in nuclear explosive activities.”

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