China's newest supercomputer, the Sunway BlueLight MMP, has caused quite a stir in the international HPC community this week. Much to everyone's surprise, the Sunway system is performing about 1,000 trillion calculations per second using 8,700 Chinese-made microprocessors.
Last year, China made waves with its Tianhe-1A supercomputer, which briefly occupied the number one ranking on the Top500 list as the world's fastest supercomputer. Although Tianhe-1a did sport an advanced interconnect system designed by a Chinese team, the actual processors chips were made by Intel and Nvidia — which allowed HPC developers and researchers to breath a sigh of relief. So considering that China was thought to be about three generations behind chips makers in the United States, Japan, and Taiwan, the community is keenly interested to take a closer look at the Sunway's ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors.
But more interesting perhaps is that fact that the Sunway uses only one megawatt of power and yet is about 74 percent as fast as Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaugar supercomputer – currently the third fastest machine in the world – which consumes . Also of note is Sunway's advanced water-cooling system, which could not only help keep power costs down but could also pave the way forward for an exascale-capable system in the future.
“Getting this cooling technology correct is very, very difficult,” says Steven Wallach, chief scientist at Convey Computer, in an interview in the New York Times. “This tells me that this is a serious design. This cooling technology could scale to exaflop. They are in the hunt to win.”
Sunway's liquid cooling components:
The Sunway's ShenWei SW1600 microprocessors:
Some Sunway stats:
▪ Installed in 09/2011 at NSC in Jinan, Shandong,China
▪ Petaflop, number 2 in top100 2011 in china, peak 1.07016 PFlops, Sustained 795.9 Pflops, linpack efficent 74.4 percent
▪ 8700 ShenWei SW1600 CPU, designed in chinese, manufactured in Shanghai
▪ power 1074KW, water cooling