China Making Strides Toward Exascale

By Nicole Hemsoth

August 23, 2011

This morning Chinese citizens woke up to a supercomputing story in one of its largest newspapers, China Daily. An article describing the recent successes of Chinese HPC and its goals for future top machines emphasized how while the system was native, some of the core components are made in the United States.

The Chinese news giant pointed to China’s ambitions to reach the exascale level by 2020, citing successes with Tianhe-1A.

The author noted that there is significant value for the nation and its economy, pulling in the statistic that Fesco Oil, which once required six months to analyze a 10-square kilometer piece of land with a 5 km depth harnessed the power of Tianhe-1A to do the same crunching in around 16 hours.

According to Hu Quingfeng, deputy designer of Tianhe-1A, the road to exascale in China is being paved. He told China Daily, that they are “preparing work on a supercomputer with a capacity of 100 petaflops by 2015 and will try to produce the first exascale computer in 2020.” Hu continued, claiming that his team has “kicked off the research of some core technologies and manpower cultivation for the plan.”

The article also claimed that “although the supercomputer uses 2048 FT-1000 CPUs developed by NUDT, it largely runs on the 14,336 CPUs made by Intel, the US chipmaker, and 7,186 GPUs from NVIDIA, also based in the U.S.”

In addition to tackling some of the hardware demands of an exascale system, officials from NUDT say that they plan to focus on the practical use of these machines, citing the value it will bring to other industries seeing benefits from Tianhe-1A, including seismic science, meteorology, medicine, manufacturing and commercial design.

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