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Supercomputing Hardware

China Switching To Home-Grown Chips For Supercomputers 198

Posted by timothy
from the extreme-dogfooding dept.
rubycodez writes "The Tianhe-1A system will be the last Chinese supercomputer to use imported Intel and AMD processors. By years end, China's own 64 bit MIPS-compatible 65nm 8-core 1GHz version of the Godsen (Longsoon family) processors will be used, including 10,000 of them for the 'Dawning 6000' supercomputer. Yes, the chips can and usually do run GNU/Linux, but also can run FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD."
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China Switching To Home-Grown Chips For Supercomputers

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  • by slonik (108174) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:31AM (#35463224)
    The processor family is called Loongson [wikipedia.org] and not "LongSoon" as summary says. But the typo is funny in its own way.
  • Re:Silly. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:44AM (#35463314) Journal

    Speaking of which, it does make me wonder about all this fuss over 64 bit ARM chips for datacentres. There are already high performance, low power 64 bit MIPS chips and have been for years

    Not really. Low power MIPS64 chips use 10-20W. Low power ARM chips use under 1W. They're both low power within their various domains, but the ARM chips get a lot more performance per Watt. Most of the time, the MIPS chips are more interesting for supercomputing, because they have better floating point, better interconnect (there's a lot of experience floating around building large MIPS systems, a lot from ex-SGI people), better toolchains (MIPS has been in HPC so long that it's a standard target for compiler in that market), and better overall performance.

    The ARM chips are interesting because a lot of server tasks are not CPU-bound. You can stick 64 ARM SoCs, each with enough flash and RAM to run a small business server, in a 1U case and not worry about heat. You can connect it to a big SAN for storage of data (just put the OS and apps on the flash). Idle power usage can be a few mW per server, power usage under load is basically the power usage of the SAN - the rest of the hardware is adding 1W or so.

    It's a mistake to confuse the server and HPC markets. They have very different requirements.

  • Wrong. Dead Wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:56AM (#35463378) Homepage

    you are completely wrong. this processor has over 200 x86 emulation instructions, allowing it to run x86 code with only a 30% performance penalty, under qemu. it also has two 256-bit vector pipelines that provide SIMD floating-point operations so powerful that a single 1ghz core can do 1080p at over 100 frames a second. to claim that "it will never work" in the face of evidence that you simply haven't looked at is ridiculous. look up the specifications on the GS464V, please. also, you are not aware that the Chinese Government has purchased 25% of MIPS, and is working with the MIPS teams in the U.S. to create this processor. this processor *IS* MIPS's high-performance, low-power 64-bit MIPS chip.

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:00AM (#35463394) Homepage

    the article has missed out some important information, which is that they are planning two versions of the CPU. the first is a Quad-Core 65nm, and the second is a 16-core 28nm, which will use the same amount of power (about 12-15 watts). hopefully they will also do a Single-Core 28nm which would be under 1 watt, because at 1ghz the SIMD units are so powerful they can do 1080p at 100 frames per second. really, this CPU design is a game-changer. i've been advocating their use for some time - http://lkcl.net/laptop.html [lkcl.net]

  • Re:Domination (Score:3, Informative)

    by swalve (1980968) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:34AM (#35463600)

    You make a good point. One of the tragedies of the US is our frontier and pioneering spirit. (Not that other people and countries don't have the exact same thing. But the US just happens to be the biggest right now.) We do the hard work of inventing a lot of things, the hard work of refining the processes. And then other countries and peoples learn from our mistakes and do "better" than we did at it.

    Of course, it would probably have been a lot harder for the Chinese if some Intel or AMD partner hadn't sold their fab plant to the Chinese.

    I'm not complaining- I'd still rather be in the US. But it is galling to hear people make comparisons that just don't work. It is easy to improve upon something that someone has already been busting their asses on. This doesn't make the Chinese "better" (nor does inventing it first make the US better). It's just a different thing.

    At work the other day, someone was pounding their head against the wall trying to figure out why their computer wouldn't read a DVD. Hours. They ask me what I think might be wrong. "Maybe the disk is corrupted?" Sure enough, the disk was (functionally) blank. They effused and groveled at my "genius". Fuck no. They did all the other things, I just identified (guessed) at the thing they didn't try.

    Also, the pioneers get the arrows and the settlers get the land. Beware!

  • Re:Domination (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cookie3 (82257) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:40AM (#35464032) Homepage

    The Japanese elite *may* have outlived the European/American elite but I'm gonna [citation needed] you on that one... The Japanese common man, however, certainly did NOT live longer or better than his Western counterpart.

    I refer you to "Standard of Living in Japan Before Industrialization: From what Level did Japan Begin? A Comment" by Yasukichi Yasuba in The Journal of Economic History Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 217-224.

    Yasuba takes to task the notion that life for the commoner in Japan was better than that in the West. While economic development HAD been ongoing throughout the Tokugawa shogunate, and circumstances had improved for the Japanese laborer, the reality of the situation is that farmers here and farmers there both were treated very poorly. He also points out, specifically, the flaw in Hanley's research (which estimated life expectancy to be around 40 years in Japan) specifically used a source which excluded year 0 deaths, and then substituted Western infant mortality rates in its place. At the time, Japan would be much closer to India than the West. By using data which matches temple records more closely, Yasuba suggests that the actual life expectancy of the time was around 35, which (again) puts it below the West.

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