No more “Intel Inside” Chinese supercomputers

The US government doesn’t want Intel updating China’s supercomputer. The Department of Commerce believes the license applied by Intel to export 80,000 chips to update Chinese supercomputer Tianha-2 has involvement in nuclear research.

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On the other hand, Intel has separately signed a deal of $200 million with US government to build a massive supercomputer – Aurora (with a peak performance of 180 petaflops and is expected to launch in operation in 2018) at one of its national laboratories, however; government’s refusal to update Chinese supercomputer with Xeon chips will cost a lot to Intel. Tianhe-2 is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and if US government would have allowed Intel to update chips of this supercomputer, it could generate a computational capacity of more than 110 petaflops.

The Top 500 that monitors supercomputers, has said the Tianha-2 has been world’s most powerful machine for past 18 months. This machine has to go to an upgrade to boost its abilities which is so far to 32 petaflops. A petaflop is equal to about one quadrillion calculations per second.

The Reason –

The US Department of Commerce said Tianha-2 and other three Chinese supercomputers were being used for “nuclear explosive activities”. These machines covers technologies used in fabrication of nuclear weapons that’s why government cannot approve the license applied by Intel for exporting chips to China. Also it was notified by the Department of Commerce that including Tianha-2, institutions where four supercomputers would be located were believed to engage in programs that clash with national security or foreign policy interests of the US government.

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