The Rise of Chinese Supercomputers

Seymour Cray’s pioneering of Supercomputering technology in the 1960s revolutionized the manner and speed of data processing in a swathe of scientific fields. Supercomputers allowed for countless simulations of quantum mechanics, intricate & precise models of molecules, climate patterns, and physical simulations the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Today, Cray’s original Atlas is expectedly obsolete; however, its conception has continued to inspire countless generations of Supercomputers, each more innovative and powerful than the last. Throughout the 20th century, the Western world, primarily the United States and the UK, managed to maintain a strong lead against other countries when it came to Super computer technology. However, as other nations begin to see the substantial benefits of investing in the technology, we’re seeing an expansive growth in the industry, and one country in particular seems to be gearing itself up for a great deal of further research into the field: China.

Ten years ago, China had a total of 28 supercomputers across its nation; a paltry, negligible amount in comparison to its 167 systems today. Over the span of a mere decade, China has increased its Supercomputers’ power drastically with their machines claiming both the first & second spot on the TOP500 list, eclipsing the next runner up, the United States’ Titan, by over 100 Petaflops.

The number alone does not capture the Sunway TaihuLight’s sheer magnitude and processing power — it is ludicrously fast, essentially performing quadrillions of operations per second. The United States has not come close to surpassing this record, its Titan Supercomputer peaks at around 27 petaflops, which, while still impressive, is still dramatically less robust than either of its Chinese counterparts.

What is particularly astounding about China’s Supercomputer technology is its explosive growth over such a short period of time as well as its complete lack of reliance on US microprocessors. By achieving such a remarkably fast computing time utilizing exclusively non-western processors, China has dispelled the belief that their success in the industry would be predicated on a reliance on external technology. Not only has their own processing power proven to be adequate, it has far eclipsed its competition in certain contexts. Zizhong Chen, an expert on the subject at UCR, believes that Sunway TaihuLight is a significant leap and displays China’s potential as a future Supercomputer forerunner.

 
 

Many experts have asserted that China still has a long way to go before its Supercomputer market becomes a viable threat to the United States. Although Chinese supercomputers are relatively abundant throughout the nation, the United States has quite the grip on the industry as a whole.

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About the Author

Kabir Khanna

Kabir is an intern in the marketing department at CompuGain, he mainly focuses on managing social media engagement, and studies Math and Economics at Bard College in upstate New York. He’s worked in marketing at multiple other locations, has a keen interest in pursuing a career in consulting, financial analysis, and strategic management. In his academic career, Kabir studies how markets react to specific stresses in the global economy and how to construct enterprise wide strategies for success in those markets. He was an avid debater in high school, taking part in many state wide and national tournaments, and enjoys producing and mixing music as well as tennis in his spare time.

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