Supercomputing in China

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Proportion of supercomputers by country, November 2013

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] The Chinese seem to be making a deep commitment to supercomputing.[1]


Comparison (November 2012)[3]
Country Top speed
Number of
in TOP500
 China 33860 61
 France 1050 25
 Germany 826 30
 Japan 10510 26
 Russia 350 12
 South Korea 316 4
 United Kingdom 275 27
 United States 17590 255

The progress of supercomputing in China in the early part of the 21st century has been dramatic, in that it placed 51st in June 2003, then 14th in November 2003 and 10th in June 2004 and then 5th during 2005.[4] By mid-2010 it had reached the 2nd spot and at the end of 2010 the top spot.

To date, 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][4]

According to the MIT Technology Review, the Loongson processor will power the Dawning supercomputers by 2012, producing a line of totally Chinese made supercomputers that reach petaflop speeds.[5]

Supercomputing centers[edit]


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.[6] 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.[7]


The Supercomputing Center of the China Academy of Sciences (SCCAS) provides academic support functions to the National Centers.[8]


The National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen houses the second fastest machine in China, and the third fastest in the world.[9] 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.[10]


The Shanghai Supercomputer Center operates the Magic Cube supercomputer that runs at 230 teraflops.[11][12]


The National Supercomputing Center in Jinan operates the Sunway BlueLight MPP supercomputer that runs at 795 teraflops.[13]


The National Supercomputing Center in Hunan operates the Tianhe-1A Hunan Solution - NUDT YH MPP supercomputer that runs at 1342 teraflops.[14]


The National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou operates the (currently, 13 November 2013) top-ranked supercomputer in the world Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2),[15] which runs at 33,000 teraflops. It also operates the Tianhe-1A Guangzhou Solution - NUDT YH MPP supercomputer that runs at 211 teraflops.[16]


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.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ "TOP500 List - November 2012". TOP500. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Mims, Christopher (21 October 2010). "Chinese Chip Closes In on Intel, AMD". MIT Technology Review. 
  6. ^ United States Committee on Science and Technology (July 1987). Technology transfer to China. p. 96. LCCN 87619823. OCLC 624084757. 
  7. ^ "China to launch second generation of PHPC100 personal supercomputer in June". Financial Technology Spotlight. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Chinese website 中国科学院计算机网络信息中心超级计算中心
  9. ^ Tania Branigan. "China's Tianhe-1A takes supercomputer crown from US". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  10. ^ Fildes, Jonathan (31 May 2010). "China aims to become computer superpower". BBC News. 
  11. ^ "Shanghai Supercomputer Center". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Magic Cube supercomputer starts operation in Shanghai". Xinhua. 15 June 2009. 
  13. ^ "National Supercomputing Center in Jinan". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Top 500
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ Top 500, also the world's fastest when it was launched in 2010.
  17. ^ Article 29 Nov. 2010 国家超级计算中心落户长沙