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China Is Building a 100-Petaflop Supercomputer

IDG News Service (10/31/12) Michael Kan

The Chinese National University of Defense Technology is developing Tianhe-2, a supercomputer expected to run at 100 petaflops when it is launched in 2015.  Tianhe-2 could help keep China competitive with the future supercomputers of other countries, as industry experts estimate computers will start reaching 1,000-petaflop performance by 2018.  The Chinese government is aiming for China’s supercomputers to reach 100 petaflops in 2015, and then 1 exaflop in 2018, according to Institute of Software Chinese Academy of Sciences professor Zhang Yunquan.  Chinese supercomputers previously have relied on U.S.-made chips and software, but the Chinese government wants to develop more homegrown technology in future supercomputer systems.  “I think in the future, as China tries to reach for exascale computing, the designs of these new supercomputers could fully rely on domestic processors,” Zhang says.  “I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility.”  The European Union, Japan, and the U.S. have similar goals to create 100-petaflop systems by 2015, according to University of Tennessee professor Jack Dongarra.  However, he notes building more powerful supercomputers is rife with technical and financial challenges.

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