China claims supercomputer among world's fastest

China announced its fastest supercomputer yet Thursday in the country's latest show of its goal to become a world leader in technology.

China's National University of Defense Technology, a military academy, unveiled the machine that would have ranked fourth in the most recent Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers, state media said. The supercomputer, named Milky Way, can theoretically perform more than one million billion calculations per second, Xinhua news agency said. That figure, measured in "flops," or floating operation points per second, would make it China's first petaflop-class machine.

The machine's data has been submitted for ranking in the Top500 list, which is next due out in November, Xinhua said, citing faculty at the university in China's inland Hunan province. The computer will be used for bio-medical computing, seismic data processing during oil exploration and for the design of "aerospace vehicles," it said.

The computer has over 11,000 microprocessors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and cost at least 600 million yuan (US$88 million) to build, the agency said. It will be moved to a supercomputing center in the northeastern city of Tianjin later this year, Xinhua said.

Dawning, a Chinese government-backed hardware maker, is separately designing a petaflop supercomputer it hopes to deploy next year. That system is planned to use Godson CPUs, also known by the name Loongson, a domestic chip line designed with government funding to expand China's pool of domestically owned technology.

China-made CPUs will also be added to the Milky Way supercomputer in the future to further boost its speed, Xinhua said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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