The drive to put China on the supercomputing map may bear fruit early next year, when one of China's top server makers wraps up work on a system that will run at maximum speeds exceeding 10 trillion floating-point operations per second.
Dawning Information Industry Corp. Ltd. hopes to finish the supercomputing project in March 2004, just 11 months after it started, according to company executives.
"The success of this project . . . is regarded as an indication to the world that China is capable of becoming a front-runner in the supercomputer field on the world stage," said marketing manager Ren Jinghe.
Formed in 1995, Shenzhen-based Dawning is a spinoff of three government research groups, including the Institute for Computing Technology, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dawning continues to rely heavily on those organizations for basic R&D and to help fend off competition from other domestic server vendors, such as Legend Group and Langchao Group.
More than 100 researchers from Dawning and various government institutions are working on the supercomputing project. The result will be the Dawning 4000A, a server cluster covering 50 sq. meters and packed with more than 2,000 Opteron 800 series 64-bit processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and 2.256 terabytes of memory. The system's projected performance of 10 Tflops would rank it among the world's 10 most powerful supercomputers.
Typical applications for the Dawning 4000A will be scientific research, weather forecasting, and oil exploration, Ren said.
Among the government agencies closely tracking the progress of the supercomputing project are the Ministry of Science & Technology, the Ministry of Information Industry, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which counts the supercomputer as part of its Innovation Project program.
Until recently, Dawning used mostly Intel Corp. processors in its servers, especially in its entry-level series of products. Last week, however, Dawning announced it will team with AMD to launch a line of one- and two-way servers based on the Opteron 100 and 200 series processors.