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China Supercomputing Science Technology

Chinese Tianhe-1A Supercomputer Starts Churning Out the Science 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the thousands-of-feynmans-per-hour dept.
gupg writes "When China built the world's fastest supercomputer based on NVIDIA GPUs last year, a lot of naysayers said this was just a stunt machine. Well, guess what — here comes the science! They are working on better material for solar panels and they ran the world's fastest simulation ever. NVIDIA (whose GPUs accelerate these applications as a co-processor) blogged on this a while ago, where they talk about how the US really needs to up its investment in high performance computing."
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Chinese Tianhe-1A Supercomputer Starts Churning Out the Science

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  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday June 10, 2011 @03:50PM (#36404874)

    NVIDIA (whose GPUs accelerate these applications as a co-processor) blogged on this a while ago, where they talk about how the US really needs to up its investment in high performance computing."

    This just in: Company who makes GPUs for supercomputers thinks that people should buy more of their GPUs.

    • And talk about BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 10, 2011 @04:35PM (#36405398)

      "The US really needs to up its investment in high performance computing."

      Really? Well let's have a look at the top500 list shall we? Now while Linpack leaves some things to be desired (like the fact that clusters perform better on it than they can on some things like particle simulation) but it is the standard.

      So of the top 10 system 5, half, are in the US. #2, 5, 7, 8 and 10 are US computers. The next 10? 7 of them in the US. So 12 of the top 20 are US systems. Most of them are US government systems too, and the ones that aren't are university. So not like "Big companies that happen to be in the US," but research universities and government research agencies like the DOE and so on.

      It also isn't stopping. The Advanced Simulation & Computing Program (formerly ASCI) is going on and more computers are being built. LANL has chosen Cray to build the next one, Cielo. It is partially complete and online now, though still being added to. Currently #10 on the list, it will move up a bit when it is complete.

      So I don't see the US as not investing in this.

      What I see them not doing is buying nVidia GPU based systems, which is fine. GPUs are neat and all but they are not as general purpose as CPUs. They are stream processors. Now if your project is one that stream processors are good at then great. However not all projects are. Particle simulation, that I mentioned before, is one that stream processors aren't so good at. So just because something is higher on the Linpack based top500, doesn't mean it is faster at everything.

      Regardless, it isn't like the US needs to be on the number 1 spot to be good. The more telling fact is how many are there, that the US has over half of the systems in the top 20. Clearly supercomputers are something the US has plenty of. Keep going down the list and you keep seeing a lot of US systems.

      This is just nVidia trying to play on the whole patriotism thing to make sales.

      • by cashman73 (855518)
        Just because the Chinese popped in there with #1, doesn't mean that we're losing our domination in the industry all of a sudden. Plans are well on the way for the next generation of supercomputers [insidehpc.com]. We're talking about 20 petaflops and up,. . .
      • So of the top 10 system 5, half, are in the US. #2, 5, 7, 8 and 10 are US computers

        On the other hand, 10 years ago the US had 7 of the top 10, including #1, #2, #3 and #4.

        • Is the US the only country that is allowed to be any good at this? To me it seems the story isn't the US investment in supercomputing is dropping, because it isn't. The story is that other countries are investing more in it. That is a good thing IMO. The US shouldn't be the be-all, end-all of research.

          Also please remember the nature of these things are that you get displaced. You are #1, someone builds a new #1. It isn't like you can just whack out a new one. Supercomptuers take a lot of time and money to b

          • To me it seems the story isn't the US investment in supercomputing is dropping, because it isn't.

            You seem to be saying that the only metric that counts is number of dollars spent year to year. The ignores the entire point of the TOP500 list which is to compare countries and companies relative to each other.

            You are #1, someone builds a new #1. It isn't like you can just whack out a new one.

            I didn't cherry-pick the 10 year timeline, it was the first and only data point I checked. But you are welcome to show that the trend is something other than suggested by those two data points.

            • Again, you are under the impression that this is some kind of contest the US is "losing" that if the US doesn't have the #1 spot and most of the other high spots that is a "problem" for the US.

              It isn't. It is a win for the whole world. I think it is more false patriotism BS. Too many people in the US have this idea that if you aren't the top in everything, it is a complete and total failure. You see this with things like people bemoaning the US becoming #2 to China in manufacturing output (happened this yea

              • Again, you are under the impression that this is some kind of contest

                That was nvidia's premise after all. You disputed the premise, I supported it using the same data that you cited.

        • by wisty (1335733)

          On the other hand, 10 years ago most Chinese were riding bicycles. Now they have electric scooters, and are lusting after cars. And it's a much larger country than the US.

          It's a matter of GDP multiplied by government commitment to HPC. Both China and the US have a similar commitments to HPC, so I'd expect China will overtake the US in 10 years.

          As an Australian, this doesn't bother me. If we are number 1 per capita, we are happy. The US wants to be number 1, which will simply not happen when China is 3 times

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          And? Being high up on lists like that is mostly good for dick waving. What does it matter if your supercomputer is #1 or #5 if it does its job?

      • by timeOday (582209)

        So of the top 10 system 5, half, are in the US. #2, 5, 7, 8 and 10 are US computers.

        We're #2! We're #2!!!

        Just doesn't have the same ring to it...

      • World Community Grid is sponsored by IBM. They are approaching a half a million years of donated cpu time. They do not even have to purchase the gpu since the volunteers do that. The only thing they do need to do is to write the program to utilize the gpu the members pocess. Even after several member asking them to utilize their gpu, they have not done so. It still must be too expensive or difficult to program the gpu or IBM would have done it years ago.
        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          They are approaching a half a million years of donated cpu time.

          The dumbest least informative metric ever. Seriously.

      • by adamchou (993073)
        Sure, the US might have the majority of the spots. But look at the difference between spots 1 and 2. Just rationalizing it as we have the most spots is insignificant when you realize that the #1 system has a max theoretical of more than double the #2 system
      • Are the Chinese running their stuff on Kylin-on-clusters? a FreeBSD officially sanctioned by the government as "the" official OS, see:

        http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/security/china-chooses-freebsd-as-basis-for-secure-os/1682 [techrepublic.com]

        http://www.freebsdnews.net/2011/01/04/kylin-chinese-freebsd-based-secure-os/ [freebsdnews.net]

      • by IrquiM (471313)
        Say what you want - you're still second!
    • Not to mention I can't help but feel like a Communist Party member wrote the blog entry or else a clueless American who poorly chose their words...

      China has made the great leap into next-generation, hybrid supercomputing by using GPUs to drive far better efficiency and performance, more economically.

      As inflated statistics reached planning authorities, orders were given to divert human resources into industry rather than agriculture. The official toll of excess deaths recorded in China for the years of the Great Leap Forward is 14 million, but as of 1987, scholars had estimated the number of victims to be between 20 and 43 million.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is there cake?

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      They put behind the same door as the emergency shutdown.

      • "Science isn't about why, it's about why not. You ask: Why is so much of our science dangerous? I say: Why not marry safe science if you love it so much. In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired." Cave Johnson

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Big deal, we use our supercomputers to play Jeopardy...LOSERS!

  • An article about a supercomputer and it's performance, and only 1 or 2 comments that are not snarky or bitchin about something. Just go back and read them. Total waste of a person's time, like most comments in most articles. I'm turning in my Karma and password. See ya.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      but, where are ya gonna go?

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

      • "Why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired." Cave Johnson

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday June 10, 2011 @04:20PM (#36405236) Homepage
    its a half-page blog post from the systems vendor, nvidia, singing the praises of their customer. as a computer scientist i want an independent scientific review...so should you, slashdot 2.0

    "Andy Keane joined NVIDIA in 2006 as GM of the new GPU Computing business unit. Previously, he was a VP at start-ups Morphics and Ageia, which focused on the development of parallel computing technologies for the telecoms and consumer industries. "

    oh goodie...the blog isnt even from a scientist at nvidia, just one of their general managers.

    Ill save some time for ya, the other link is just third party shit from HPCwire singing the praises of nvidia, plugging their NASDAQ tag, and once again singing the praises of nvidia with sponsored ads.
    oh, and of course authors will insist [insert potential rival competitor country here] invest more in high performance computing.
  • In related news, Republicans announce massive new cuts to US science research and computer analysis projects, in order to give new tax breaks to wealthy billionaires who offshore US jobs to china.

    Is there any doubt any more that Republicans are traitors, owned by globalist corporations which hold no allegiance whatsoever to the US and view common people as things to be exploited to enrich themselves, and have done all they can to undermine the US;s basic critical public investments in its science and educat

  • "how the US really needs to up its investment in high performance computing."

    As long as the defense industry continues to give (contribute) generously to members of the US government we can rest assured that the USofA will spend every buck it can print on useless, futile, BULLSHIT wars to the exclusion of any science, no matter how important.

    Wars are BIG business, nobody in the government gives a shit about "terrorism" or "defending freedom", all any of these cynical, crooked parasites care about is money a

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      Wars are BIG business

      Corporate Welfare is a bigger business. 4 trillion in the 2 years of Obama+Pelosi vs that paltry 1 trillion dollars you've been complaining about for 10 years now.

      Here is an idea.. wake the fuck up.. smell the bullshit the liberals have been feeding you and realize that wars cost money and the only disagreement with them is if there should or should not be one. Meanwhile the democrats have been handing your money to corporations at the fastest rate ever in the history of the world, yet here you are still

      • I am neither Republicrat NOR Demublican I do not follow LIES and the self serving storyline concocted by the career criminals in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Gummermint of the USofA!

        When I think what has happened to MY America it just depresses the hell outta me!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I only know of minor successes in materials engineering and genetics but even those weren't very commercially successful. A course I took at MIT about 6 years ago the professor was talking about saving 10 million for Ford using HPC materials engineering modelling but 10 million isn't very impressive. I always hear HPC "is working on" a bunch of exciting sounding stuff but I never have heard of any big successes. Has there been any big achievement of HPC other than rendering 3D movies quicker, breaking code

    • by stox (131684)

      Go talk to NOAA about weather reports. A fine example of success and HPC.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just see what aerospace, car, energy (oil, and everything else..) and medical industries are doing. Every time there is the case of avoiding building a physical model or making a hole for a series of tests and simulations, some money is saved.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A few years ago it was either GM or Ford installed a supercomputer to help with engine casts. They cast an engine using a complete piece of molten metal. There are a lot of parameters involved including the actual mass of the molten metal, metallurgical properties of the piece (carbon, molybdenum, silicon, chromium...) some of which were in trace amounts but ended up being important, then the precise temperature of the material, etc. The problem was that a piece that was cast into an engine block had the

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh my, why do I get a "what have the Romans ever done for us" moment out of this?

      I guess part of your problem is that you live in your mum's basement, and your apparent fixation on measuring "success" by "visible commercial success", whatever that means. Outside that basement, HPC is used in many, many places where you probably could imagine it, if you only cared to think about it. Examples include running crash, air-resistance other kinds of simulations for various vehicle manufacturers within the aircraft

  • anything we put into new technology just ends up in the patent portfolio's pocket with their blanket 'innovations'

  • for the people who are... still alive....

  • They bought the biggest supercomputer in the world outside various national intelligence agencies, and all they can do is come up with yet another variation of just-around-the-corner solar technology? What's next, tokamak fusion, batteries with high energy and power density, and flying cars?
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Since China is now just about the only place that does solar cell and battery manufacture the new variation just may pay for the computer a few times over on it's own.
    • If you think about it though. You only need one Solar Technological breakthrough to revolutionize the global economy.

      We're an energy driven economy. You provide inexpensive plentiful electricity free of emissions and you've just put the world's most profitable companies (The Oil Industry) on notice.

      It's not like you need 3 or 4 different effective solar cell designs. You need one. One good one that's easy and cheap to manufacture. Then you just make 6 billion of them.

      If you could get it incredibly ch

      • You provide inexpensive plentiful electricity free of emissions and you've just put the world's most profitable companies (The Oil Industry) on notice.

        Not at all. The reality is that petroleum is far too useful and valuable a substance to be burned for power. That's a waste for which future generations will revile us. Fact is, there will still be plenty of uses for oil even after the last internal combustion engine is melted down for scrap.

  • NASA is also using GPUs [nasa.gov] -- looks for climate / atmospheric modeling.

    So is the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) [hpcwire.com].

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