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China’s supercomputer leads in operation speed

(People's Daily Online)    17:33, May 18, 2018

With a crowd of fans, silence in the air and frequent keystrokes, a group of young university students competed at the 2018 ASC Student Supercomputer Challenge, or ASC18, on pioneering AI, NASA and Nobel Prize winning applications, China Youth Daily reported on May 16.

During the competition, Li Beichen from Tsinghua University and his team built a small-sized supercomputer within just a few hours, the piece having the ability to run as fast as 10,000 home computers combined.

Over the past 30 years, China’s computer industry has come on leaps and bounds and the country is now a leading force when it comes to supercomputers. A supercomputer can run at the lightening-quick speed of over a trillion times per second. The fastest supercomputer and number one on the TOP500 list, the Sunway TaihuLight, featuring processing capacity of 125.436 petaflops (PFlops) per second, which means it can perform quadrillions of calculations per second at peak performance, beats the speed of Li’s computer by over 100 times.

Early in 2001, the TOP500 list didn’t include anything developed by China. But today, two made-in-China supercomputers are ranked number one and two on the TOP500 list as the fastest supercomputers in the world. A total of 204 on the list are from China, overtaking the US who only has 143 listed.

To date, the Tianhe-2, another self-developed supercomputer, provides service for more than 1,200 users including universities and institutions, and supports over 400 national projects.

China has mastered manufacturing technologies, such as how to manufacture Sunway TaihuLight or Sunway BlueLight, Zhang Yunquan, director of National Supercomputing Center in Jinan, told the China Youth Daily and China Youth Online.

Chips, operation systems and cooling systems are all independently developed in China. However, China owns little market share in its supercomputer software, lagging behind the US and Japan, the two software behemoths.

The US has spent over 50 years studying and developing supercomputers, but China has only made efforts in this field over the past three decades, said Zhang, adding that a long-term development plan, clear direction and patience are needed to develop supercomputer technology in China.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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