China’s Sunway BlueLight supercomputer, which was built with domestically-produced microprocessors and is capable of performing around 1,000 trillion calculations per second, has officially begun operations.
The computer began working Thursday at the National Supercomputing Centre in the easten city of Jinan in Shandong province, Xinhua reported.
The computer was installed in September 2011 and underwent a three-month trial period before going into official use, making China the third country in the world — after the US and Japan — to produce such a supercomputer with domestically-produced processors.
Developed by the National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology, the Sunway BlueLight marks a great technological leap for China’s indigenous innovation in development and utilisation of high-performance computers, the centre said.
The Sunway BlueLight will promote scientific and economic development of Shandong in fields of ocean utilisation, biopharmacy, industrial design and financial risk prediction.
The computer will also serve as a node in China’s national computing grid, contributing to scientific and economic development of the whole country.
As a product of a combination of high-density packaging and low energy consumption technologies, the Sunway ranks among the world’s leading supercomputers in terms of comprehensive performance.
The Sunway BlueLight will be used to help increase the accuracy of climate simulations conducted by Chinese scientists and assist them in ocean monitoring, according to oceanology experts.
“It allows scientists to simulate water movement more than 5,500 metres below the ocean’s surface,” said Pan Jingshan, assistant director of the centre.
Comprising nine three-metre-high boxes and equipped with a total of 8,704 homegrown Shenwei 1600 microprocessors, the Sunway is among the 20 fastest supercomputers in the world.
It is about 74 percent as fast as the Jaguar Supercomputer in the US, which ranks as the third fastest computer in the world, although it is less power-hungry, Pan said.
The Sunway’s power consumption is as low as one megawatt, much lower than the Jaguar’s seven megawatts, thanks to its innovative use of liquid cooling system.
Steve Wallach, a consultant to the US Department of Energy Advanced Scientific Computing programme at Los Alamos National Laboratory, told Xinhua that the most impressive part of the Sunway BlueLight was that “most of the technology, especially the microprocessors, were homegrown”, unlike some other Chinese supercomputing system which uses foreign-made processors.