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China's secretive super-fast chip powers the world's fastest computer

Agam Shah | June 21, 2016
China sends a warning to Intel: We can develop blazing fast chips, too.

China, the U.S., Japan, and European countries are in a constant race to build the world's fastest computer. China had 167 supercomputers on the Top500 list, beating the U.S., which had 165.

The Sunway TaihuLight has the ShenWei SW26010 processor, a monster 260-core chip. Each chip delivers a performance of 3 teraflops, which Top500 rated as being on par with Intel's latest Xeon Phi chip code-named Knights Landing. That chip is rated as one of the company's fastest.

The Chinese supercomputer has a staggering 10,649,600 cores over 40,960 nodes. It was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology.

With Sunway TaihuLight, China is also the first country to make a supercomputer that passes 100 petaflops in performance. Countries are in a race to make a computer that can deliver a performance of an exaflop, or a million trillion calculations per second, which is expected to be reached sometime after 2020.

There's still is some mystery to China's latest homegrown chip. It is a 64-bit RISC processor, which Top500 speculates is based on the DEC Alpha architecture. The supercomputer has 1.3 petabytes of the older DDR3 memory, and uses 15.3 megawatts of power, making it more power-efficient than the number two supercomputer Tianhe-2, which uses 17.8 megawatts. It also has a homegrown interconnect, though its based on PCI-Express 3.0

China over years has developed a chip called Godson, which has been used in PCs, though progress has seemingly stalled. 

 

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