Four Chinese Supercomputing Orgs Named on US Blacklist

By Tiffany Trader

April 8, 2015

Editor’s Note: This copy has been updated with a quote from Intel at the end of the article.

We were alerted to a story that could have major ramifications for international supercomputing with the publishing of a report in VR-World yesterday, titled “Uncle Sam Shocks Intel with a Ban on Xeon Supercomputers in China.” The article was also published on the TOP500 site.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, the staff-bylined piece related that several Chinese supercomputing centers have been placed on the United States “Denial List,” which prevents “high technology from the USA” to be sold to these sites.

The affected sites, according to the article, are Guangzhou Supercomputer Center, National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, Tianjin Center, “among others.”

While we await confirmation from the parties involved, we uncovered that four Chinese organizations, including the ones referenced in the article, were placed on the Entity List on February 18, 2015, meaning that they’ve been “determined by the U.S. Government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Published by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the Entity List notifies the public about persons or organizations that have engaged in activities that could result in “an increased risk of the diversion of exported, reexported or transferred (in-country) items to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.”

The main claim of the Bureau of Industry and Security’s End-User Review Committee (ERC) is that the National University of Defense Technology, which used US-manufactured parts to produce the Tianhe-1A and Tianhe-2 supercomputers located at the National Supercomputing Centers in Changsha, Guangzhou, and Tianjin, is believed to be engaged in activities related to nuclear explosives.

The pertinent information can be found in the Federal Register (Vol. 80, No. 32, page 8524):

“The ERC determined the following four persons being added to the Entity List under the destination of China have been involved in activities contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. The ERC determined that the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), the National Supercomputing Center in Changsha (NSCC–CS), National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou (NSCC–GZ), and the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin (NSCC–TJ), all located in the People’s Republic of China, meet the guidelines listed under § 744.11(b): Entities for which there is reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulated facts, that an entity has been involved, is involved, or poses a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities tha​t are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States and those acting on behalf of such entities may be added to the Entity List pursuant to this section. Specifically, NUDT has used U.S.-origin multicores, boards, and (co)processors to produce the TianHe– 1A and TianHe–2 supercomputers located at the National Supercomputing Centers in Changsha, Guangzhou, and Tianjin. The TianHe–1A and TianHe–2 supercomputers are believed to be used in nuclear explosive activities as described in § 744.2(a) of the EAR.”

BIS EAR Entity List 20150218 screenshot

 

Updated April 9, 2015:

Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy provided HPCwire with the following comment:

Intel was informed in August by the U.S Department of Commerce that an export license was required for the shipment of Xeon and Xeon Phi parts for use in specific previously disclosed supercomputer projects with Chinese customer INSPUR. Intel complied with the notification and applied for the license which was denied. We are in compliance with the U.S. law.

Stay tuned as HPCwire brings you more coverage of this developing story as it unfolds.

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