Monday, August 8, 2011

China's Supercomputing Goal: From 'Zero to Hero'

NPR Online (08/02/11) Louisa Lim

Developing supercomputers that rank among the world's fastest and most powerful has become a priority of the Chinese government, and China is the home of the Tianhe 1-A, the world's second fastest supercomputer. National Supercomputer Center director Liu Guangming expects supercomputers to become critical contributors to Chinese economic and scientific development. "The key is that this supercomputer can fulfill our needs, including mineral exploration, bioengineering, patents, pharmaceuticals, and gene sequencing," he notes. However, critics contend that much of the compatible software can only use the Tianhe 1-A's central processing units and not the machine's graphics processing units. "Most of the people who use the national supercomputer are animation and games people," says Cao Jianwen with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Liu counters this notion, noting for instance that the Tianhe 1-A has played an important role in China's energy development. Still, the United States is far ahead of China in terms of software development, but China aims to ramp up its supercomputing innovation by building related facilities and all-Chinese chips.
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