September 18, 2015

China will have two 100 petaflop supercomputers in 2016 and they will use domestic chips

Within the next 12 months, China expects to be operating two 100 Petaflop computers, each containing (different) Chinese-made processors, and both coming online about a year before the United States’ 100 Petaflop machines being developed under the Coral initiative

In a separate move to acquire mastery of microprocessor technologies, China’s state owned Tsinghua Unigroup has made a bid to acquire US semiconductor manufacturer Micron Technology for $23 billion, in what could be one of the biggest acquisitions of a US company by a Chinese firm.

Chinese RISC processor

Information in the public domain at the ISC High Performance Conference in Frankfurt in July suggested that China is developing a 100 Petaflop machine that will use its own CPU, designed in China. The computer is expected to start operating before the middle of next year.

Hitherto, international attention has focused on the Tianhe-2 computer developed by the National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) and sited at the National Supercomputer Centre in Guangzhou, largely because it retained its position as the world’s No. 1 system for the fifth consecutive time when the most recent Top500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers was announced in the middle of July.

However, the first Chinese machine to reach 100 Petaflops may be one being developed by the Jiangnan Institute of Computer Technology in Wuxi, near Shanghai. It will use a next-generation, Chinese designed and manufactured, ShenWei chip. A ShenWei processor, the SW1600, currently powers the Sunway BlueLight, which is already in operation at the National Supercomputer Centre in Jinan, and which ranked 86 in the Top500 published in July.

The next-generation ShenWei could come online as early as the end of this year, or towards the beginning of next year.


China Accelerator

The second domestically designed chip will be the ‘China Accelerator’ that the National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) is developing for the Tianhe-2 supercomputer. As a result of the US embargo on Intel exporting any more Phi co-processors to the NUDT, the upgrade to the Tianhe-2 that will take it to 100 PFlops has been delayed until later in 2016. However, the effect has been to encourage the domestic development of Chinese co-processors.

The interconnection topology for the Tianhe system is an optic-electronic hybrid. The NUDT had already created the interconnects, using high-radix Network Routing Chips (NRC) and high-speed Network Interface Chips (NIC), both of which were designed by Chinese engineers and are Chinese intellectual property.

NExtbigfuture had coverage in August about China's plans to upgrade the Tianhe supercomputer to 100 petaflop levels



Since the next-generation ShenWei will be based on its own CPU chip and the co-processors for Tianhe-2 are being developed at the NUDT, China will enter the 100 Petaflop era with its own CPU, accelerator, and interconnect technologies.

Here is an older review of supercomputer chips.


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