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On to Supercomputing

The US Department of Commerce has placed restrictions on both the ability of five Chinese supercomputing firms to receive parts from US companies and the ability of US companies to assign Chinese nationals to advanced engineering projects, the Wall Street Journal reports. It notes that this is part of efforts to keep US technology out of China's hands.

The US and China have been vying for having the fastest supercomputer — currently, the US has the two fastest supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, followed by China's Sunway TaihuLight, according to TOP500, which ranks the systems.

Under these new restrictions, the Journal says, for instance, that the Chinese firm Sugon — which Commerce says has acknowledged military end-uses for its tools — would not be able to get supplies like chips from US firms like Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, or Nvidia. Analysts tell the Journal that this rule could, in the short-term, affect Chinese efforts to build an exascale system, but in the long run could push China to rely on domestic parts.

The Journal adds that the Trump Administration is also limiting the number of licenses that allow Chinese nationals to work on advance engineering projects in the US. It reports that the Commerce Department issued 350 of those licenses in 2018, as compared to 771 in 2017.