September 01, 2008

China has a 230 teraflop supercomputer


China has launched a supercomputer based on homegrown server standards that, at its peak, can make 230 trillion per second.

The supercomputer, named Dawning 5000, was developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Dawning Information Industry Co. Ltd. and has recorded a LINPACK speed of 160 trillion FLOPS (floating point operations per second), Xinhua news agency reported.

It is 10 times faster than China's former fastest supercomputer, the Dawning 400A, which is able to make 10 trillion calculations per second. The Dawning 400A was jointly launched by Dawning and the CAS's Institute of Computing Technology in 2004.

Dawning 5000 will be sold commercially for RMB 100 million (14.71 million), according to Dawning.

China is investing heavily in its domestic Godson series of microprocessors

China has produced four Godson processors, the latest being the Godson 2f. It struck a deal last year with STMicroelectronics to manufacture and sell the chips, and they are now used by 40 companies in set-top boxes, laptops and other products, Xu said. The commercial name for the chips is Loongson.

China will complete the design of a new version of the chip, the Godson 2g, which integrates more functionality on the silicon. Next year it hopes to include graphics capabilities on the same silicon as the main processor, much as AMD and Intel are doing today.

China is also hard at work on the Godson 3, which is aimed primarily at servers and will be the first Godson to use a multicore design. A version of the chip due in 2009 will have four general-purpose cores and four specialized cores for tasks like scientific computing.

China hopes the Godson 3 will allow it to build a high-performance computer in 2010 that can perform at one petaflop per second. Godson's use in PCs has been held back by the fact that it is based on a MIPS core, as opposed to the x86 design used by Intel and AMD. To run Windows, it has to use translation software to achieve x86-compatibility, and the Godson loses a lot of its native MIPS power in the process.

The Godson 3 adds new instructions that speed the x86-to-MIPS translation by a factor of 10. A goal is to achieve 80% of the MIPS performance but right now they are at 40%.




FURTHER READING
Dawning computers at wikipedia

The Dawning 5000 is the sixth or seventh fastest supercomputer on the June 2008 Top500 list. The top500 list does not include the special purpose MDGrape 3 petaflop computers from Japan.

The Top 500 list of supercomputers

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