Supercomputing in China

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Distribution of supercomputers in the TOP500 list by country, June 2016.

China operates a number of supercomputer centers which have held world records in speed.[1]

The origins of these centers go back to 1989, when the State Planning Commission, the State Science and Technology Commission and the World Bank jointly launched a project to develop networking and supercomputer facilities in China. In addition to network facilities, the project included three supercomputer centers.[2] Today, China is home to the world's fastest supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight.


Comparison (June 2016)[3]
Country Top speed (Rmax)
Number of
in TOP500
 China 93014.6 167
 United States 17590.0 165
 Japan 10510.0 29
 Germany 5640.2 26
 France 5283.1 18
 United Kingdom 3944.7 12
 South Korea 2395.7 7
 Russia 2102.0 7
 India 901.5 9

The progress of supercomputing in China has been rapid; the country's most powerful supercomputer placed 43rd in November 2002 (DeepComp 1800[4]), 11th by November 2003 (DeepComp 6800[5]), 10th by June 2004 (Dawning 4000A[6]), and by November 2010 (Tianhe-1A[7]) held top spot. China would go on to fall behind Japan in June 2011 until June 2013 when the country's most powerful supercomputer once again clocked in as the world record.[8]

Prior to the Sunway TaihuLight, Chinese supercomputers have used "off the shelf" processors, e.g. Tianhe-1 uses thousands of Intel and Nvidia chips, and uses the Linux operating system which is open source software. However, to avoid possible future technology embargo restrictions, the Chinese are developing their own processors such as the Loongson, a MIPS type processor.[1][8]

According to the MIT Technology Review, the Loongson processor would power the Dawning supercomputers by 2012, producing a line of totally Chinese made supercomputers that reach petaflop speeds.[9]

Supercomputing centers[edit]


The Supercomputing Center of the China Academy of Sciences (SCCAS) provides academic support functions to the National Centers. SCCAS, which is located in Beijing, is the Northern main node and operation center for China National Grid (CNGrid).[10]


The National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou operates the second most powerful supercomputer in the world (as of June 2016) Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2),[11] which runs at 33,000 teraflops. It also operates the Tianhe-1A Guangzhou Solution - NUDT YH MPP supercomputer that runs at 211 teraflops.[12]


Foundations for a new major branch of the National Supercomputing Center (国家超级计算中心 Guójiā Chāojíjìsuàn Zhōngxīn) were laid in Changsha on 28 November 2010.[13] It operates the Tianhe-1A Hunan Solution - NUDT YH MPP supercomputer which runs at 1342 teraflops.[14]


The National Supercomputing Center in Jinan operates the Sunway BlueLight MPP supercomputer that runs at 795 teraflops.[15]


The Shanghai Supercomputer Center operates the Magic Cube supercomputer that runs at 230 teraflops.[16][17]


The National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen houses the second fastest machine in China, and the third fastest in the world.[18] In May 2010 the Nebulae computer in Shenzhen placed second on the Top 500 supercomputer list, after the Cray computer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.[19]


The National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin is one of the main centers. It houses the Tianhe-I supercomputer which in October 2010 became the top speed record holder in the world by consistently operating at 2.507 petaflops. The Tianjin Computer Institute had been active as far back as 1984 when it developed the 16-bit TQ-0671 microcomputer system.[20] A commercial affiliate of the Tianjin center had previously made the PHPC100 personal supercomputer in 2008 which was about twice the size of a normal desktop computer, but had 40 times the speed. In 2010 a second generation model was released.[21]


The National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi houses the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, the most powerful supercomputer in the world as of June 2016.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee (28 October 2010). "China Wrests Supercomputer Title From U.S.". New York Times. 
  2. ^ Xing Fan (2001). Communications and information in China. pp. 39–42, 90. ISBN 0-7618-1950-9. 
  3. ^ a b "TOP500 List - June 2016". TOP500. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "DeepComp 1800". TOP500. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "DeepComp 6800". TOP500. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Dawning 4000A". TOP500. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Tianhe-1A". TOP500. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Graham, Susan L.; Snir, Marc; Patterson, Cynthia A. (2005). Getting up to speed: the future of supercomputing. p. 188. ISBN 0-309-09502-6. 
  9. ^ Mims, Christopher (21 October 2010). "Chinese Chip Closes In on Intel, AMD". MIT Technology Review. 
  10. ^ "China National Grid". CNGrid Operation Center. Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  11. ^ "Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) - TH-IVB-FEP Cluster, Intel Xeon E5-2692 12C 2.200GHz, TH Express-2, Intel Xeon Phi 31S1P". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Top 500, also the world's fastest when it was launched in 2010.
  13. ^ Article 29 Nov. 2010 国家超级计算中心落户长沙
  14. ^ Top 500
  15. ^ "National Supercomputing Center in Jinan". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Shanghai Supercomputer Center". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  17. ^ "Magic Cube supercomputer starts operation in Shanghai". Xinhua. 15 June 2009. 
  18. ^ Tania Branigan. "China's Tianhe-1A takes supercomputer crown from US". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  19. ^ Fildes, Jonathan (31 May 2010). "China aims to become computer superpower". BBC News. 
  20. ^ United States Committee on Science and Technology (July 1987). Technology transfer to China. p. 96. LCCN 87619823. OCLC 624084757. 
  21. ^ "China to launch second generation of PHPC100 personal supercomputer in June". Financial Technology Spotlight. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2013.