China has announced that it has created its first supercomputer built upon its own microprocessor chips. The computer, the Sunway BlueLight MPP, is rated at one petaflop per second (1,000 trillion calculations per second) and is comprised of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors. The computer has been up and running in the country's National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, a city in the Shandong Province in eastern China, since September.
Each of the 1.1GHz ShenWei SW1600 processors is built upon a 128-bit, 16-core RISC architecture. It reaches 140 gigaflops in floating point performance for complex math. Combined they produce a supercomputer that is ranked among the 20 fastest computers in the world.
Although experts believe the Chinese lag other countries in chip-making technology by three generations, their progress has caught the pundits off-guard. "This is a bit of a surprise," said Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist and leader of the Top500 project, a list of the world’s fastest computers.
This is not the first time China has impressed the supercomputer community with its technology. Last November, China unveiled the Tianhe-1A, a supercomputer based on the NVIDIA Tesla chip. The computer reached a peak of 2.507 petaflops. The Tianhe-1A was able to hold on to the world record, until it was topped in June by Fujitsu's K Computer. The K, which uses 68,544 Sparc-based CPUs, hit 8.162 petaflops per second.