New era in supercomputing is born – China’s homegrown Sunway Bluelight is operational

China has come a long way fast in the world of supercomputers and now occupies the number two and number four spots on the Top 500 list.

Now the country has taken another major step forward by being only the third country in the world, after Japan and the USA, to launch a supercomputer made out of processors made in the country.

Just a few days ago, the Sunway Bluelight, a supercomputer that uses processors designed and built in China, was put into operation.

China is now number two

On the latest Top 500 list, from November 2011, only four out of the 500 computers use non-USA processors, and China is number two behind USA with 75 supercomputers on the list.

Japan is currently top of the supercomputing world with the Fujitsu-built K Computer, capable of more than 10 Petaflops per second in processing prowess.

China’s Tianhe-1A, then capable of 2.5 Petaflops, held the throne for a while in 2010, but since then China has not topped the list again.

Surely the Chinese authorities are keen on reclaiming the throne and perhaps they can do so with the Sunway Bluelight MPP. It is presently at number 14 on the Top 500 list.

Sunway Bluelight MPP

But it’s not for its performance, nor for its energy efficiency that the Sunway Bluelight is making headlines. It’s because it’s completely built with Chinese-designed and manufactured processors.

The Sunway Bluelight MPP was installed in September at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, eastern China. It consists of of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors, capable of performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Put in another way, 1,000 trillion calculations per second is a Petaflop.

According to China Daily the supercomputer was put into operation just a few days ago, something also noted by an article in Inside HPC, which also included the following video:

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The supercomputing future is interesting

No doubt, there is a lot happening in the field of supercomputing, much of which is never known in wider circles. Us geeks at Pingdom try to keep up with developments and report what we find especially compelling to you.

You may also want to go read our article where we compare the K Computer to Apple’s iPad. We try to figure out how many iPads it takes to match the supercomputer’s processing power.

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