China steps up its semiconductor game with homegrown supercomputer effort

China steps up its semiconductor game with homegrown supercomputer effort

Summary: China is using domestic chips for its latest supercomputer as it relies less on U.S. players like Intel, Nvidia and AMD and becomes a potential competitor.


China is stepping up its semiconductor manufacturing efforts and using domestic chips for its latest supercomputer. It's going to be interesting to see how fast China can close in on U.S. supercomputer processor makers Intel, AMD and Nvidia.

The New York Times reported that a supercomputer called Sunway BlueLight MPP, was installed in September at the National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, China. The details emerged at a technical meeting. The real catch is that China used 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 chips.

Those semiconductors are home grown and indicate that China is aiming to be a major chip player. The New York Times story was mostly sourced to Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist at the University of Tennessee, but Chinese sites reported on the technical meeting. Dongarra helps manage the list of Top 500 supercomputers. China's previous supercomputers used Intel and Nvidia chips.

Meanwhile, ZDNet UK highlighted the blog of Hung-Sheng Tsao, founder of HopBit GridComputing, who posted the slides detailing the Sunway BlueLight MPP, which come from covered China's supercomputing powwow extensively this week.

ZDNet UK's Jack Clark noted:

According to (Tsao's) slides, which appear to be from a presentation describing the computer's capabilities, the ShenWei Sunway BlueLight MPP has 150TB of main storage and 2PB of external storage. Each ShenWei SW1600 processor is 64-bit, has 16-cores and is RISC-based.

Here's a Google Translate link offering more details via IT168.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the China domestic supercomputing effort is very credible and signals an effort to cut the country's reliance on western companies. It's unclear whether China's chips are completely original blueprints or based on a previous design. One issue for the Sunway chips is power consumption. The Sunway supercomputer apparently doesn't need that much power relative to rivals.

The New York Times added that that ShenWei chip appears to be based "on some of the same design principles that are favored by Intel’s most advanced microprocessors."

China's efforts appear to be a few generations behind, but rest assured the country will try to close any gaps quickly.


Topics: Processors, Hardware, Networking, China

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  • They had better work fast

    I know China thinks the future will be a straight line projection of today. In reality, it's the ultimate case of 'it'll be different this time'.

    China has trillions upon trillions of debt squirreled away by cities and localities that the central government doesn't even know about, and all of it is loans upon loans based on overvalued high rise condos.

    I've seen this movie before.
    • RE: China steps up its semiconductor game with homegrown supercomputer effort

      @HollywoodDog, another opportunity to bash China? The problem is that "I've seen this movie before." Can you locate China on a map?
      Wishing for China's downfall won't make it so. I own two houses in China. It's 100% paid for. Most people I know (relatives, colleagues and friends) have little debt unlike situation in the US. It???s true that lots of houses are not used as primary residences. It???s unlikely for China to have a housing situation like the US does because of the low debt/income ratio. It means most people there live within their means instead of living like a parasite.
      • China has it's own money issues to contend with

        and the Chineese people are slowly aquiring debt of their own in the fast growing urban areas, as opposes to where as the poorer countryside, in which many have no debt, nor possesions.

        It is far from "rosey" as you have stated.
        Tim Cook
      • You only know as much as the Chinese gov't is willing to tell you,

        and even then, you had better not be trusting at all.<br><br>The Chinese do have a lot of money problems, with the banks being in dire situations with a lot of debt, especially from mortgages that will never get paid. There are also "ghost cities" from overbuilding when the government thought that the future was very bright, and then, the world economic meltdown occurred, and China is stuck with the rest of the world in a huge downturn. Even when the government reports GDP growth, you can bet they're lying to you. <br><br>But, most importantly, China is a "dependent" country, where, most of its growth and what it produces, depends upon foreign demands for the goods that are cheaply produced in China. When those foreign clients reduce their demands for Chinese produced goods, the Chinese economy suffers. <br><br>So, don't give me that rosy "China is doing fine" nonsense. As long as they're not self-sustaining, with their own people being the consumer base that drives the economy, then it will remain a "dependent" country, with the rest of the world being the determinant forces for China's economy.
    • RE: China steps up its semiconductor game with homegrown supercomputer effort

      china is graduating far more engineers than the us. don't forget how the west moved ahead of the rest of the world. while americans are busy imagining themselves becoming the next big name athletes and movie stars, the chinese (and also the indians) are busy educating themselves. guess what, there are lots of them pushing the technological envelope here in our good old usa. and when they return to their homeland, they will be force to reckon with. civilization is revolving around the world, read your history books and don't remain sleeping...
      • The Soviet Union also graduated a lot of engineers, but, although

        they had some very great achievements, those never were able to get translated to creating a robust economy. The Chinese economy has the same basic faults, where, no matter how much talent they graduate at high levels, they'll never be able to convert it into great market forces.

        When an economy is centrally managed, and people aren't fully able to manage their own futures and own corporations and businesses, and don't have the incentives to be creative, then the talent produced will be mostly wasted.

        It takes a lot more that a billion college degrees to create a robust economy.
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    • RE: China steps up its semiconductor game with homegrown supercomputer effort