China Surprise: A Petaflop Super With Homegrown Chips

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John Markoff writes that China has built the first Petaflop supercomputer based on Chinese CPUs, an advance that surprised high-performance computing specialists in the United States.

The Sunway system, which can perform about 1,000 trillion calculations per second — a petaflop — will probably rank among the 20 fastest computers in the world. More significantly, it is composed of 8,700 ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors, designed at a Chinese computer institute and manufactured in Shanghai. Currently, the Chinese are about three generations behind the state-of-art chip making technologies used by world leaders such as the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

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