LONDON – China has reported the development of a supercomputer based on a domestically developed microprocessor, according to a New York Times report.
The Sunway BlueLight MPP was installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province in eastern China, in September, the report said. The computer can perform about 1,000 trillion calculations per second – or 1-petaflop – and comprises 8,704 ShenWhei SW1600 processors, it added. The computer has sophisticated water cooling system.
The ShenWei SW1600 is a third generation processor designed by the Jinan Computing Research Lab. The 16-core chip is capable of 140-Gflops at 1.1-GHz, according to reports. It is thought to have been designed in 2010 as part of line of chips with similarities to the DEC Alpha 21164 processor developed mainly for Chinese military use.
It is speculated that the SW3 was made in Shanghai by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. in a 65-nm CMOS process technology.
All large militaries will want to ensure that they have an independent supply chain for key technologies. None really care how that is achieved - through independent IP development or leveraging existing IP.
The South Africans did this during the apartheid era, as did the Russians and Chinese.
If these become good enough to commercialise that is a secondary matter.
It will be interesting to see if these eventually find their way into the embedded supply chain.
The later is how I took it PJ - that the knockoff of the Chinese Alpha was originally for their military use. I don't think Dec was ever actively contracted or otherwise serving the needs of the red army
(I'll ask my friend someday who was an Alpha yield engineer though ;-)
But is it really internal ORIGINATED IP, or is it just a impressive bootleg from an abandoned Alpha chip architecture plans?
Not to belittle their accomplishments, but can this effort be qualified as home-brew IC development?
The age of the original design upon which this processor is based is rather irrelevant as to its degree of internal architectural advancement. E.g. Intel Sandy Bridge and AMD Bulldozer are "based on" x86 ISA introduced in 1978. Attaining 1 petaflops performance with only 65nm process 1MW power is quite significant. The supercomputer race got a lot more interesting with this announcement!
I agree this is an impressive achievement, but let's not get carried away. A processor core based on or similar to the DEC Alpha 21164 -- which was introduced in 1995 -- hardly qualifies as "the latest in technology." Neither does 65 nm CMOS.