China will build three competing pre-exascale systems to select exaFLOP design

China is not betting solely on the Shenwei chips (used in worlds fastest supercomputer- 93 petaFLOPS), and apparently has plans to build three different pre-exascale systems with three very different architectures, according to some Tweets put out by James Lin, vice director for the Center of HPC at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The three-way horse race for exascale machines in China will set up a horse race between three different organizations to build pre-exascale clusters based on ARM, Shenwei, and AMD (presumably Opteron) technologies. The first pre-exascale machine is being created by NUDT and will use ARM-based processors and will be deployed at the national supercomputer center in Tianjin where the Tianhe-1A CPU-GPU hybrid was deployed in 2010 and gave China its first top spot on the Top 500 rankings of supercomputers. There is no mention of using the Matrix2000 DSP accelerator with this system, but unless NUDT plans to create its own ARM chip with a homegrown floating point accelerator and embed it on the die, it stands to reason that this first pre-exascale machine will be an ARM-DSP hybrid.

The second pre-exascale machine is being developed by the same people who put together the Sunway TaihuLight system, and it will be deployed in the national supercomputing center in Jinan, where its predecessor, the Sunway Bluelight system, currently runs.

The third pre-exascale machine, and perhaps equally interesting, will be built by Chinese system maker Sugon and will employ an X86 processor licensed from AMD. We presume this is a licensed variant of the future “Zen” Opteron chip, due in 2017 for servers. It is not clear who is doing the licensing of the X86 technology from AMD, but back in April, AMD announced that it had inked a deal worth $293 million to license X86 chip technology to Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co, which is itself an investment consortium that is guided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In May, China committed to delivering an exascale-class machine by 2020 with 10 PB of memory, exabytes of storage, and 30 gigaflops per watt efficiency (about five times better than the new Sunway TaihuLight system), and greater than 60 percent efficiency on the Linpack Fortran benchmark test.

Shenway supercomputer

SOURCES- Twitter, Nextplatform

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