China’s seventh supercomputing center approved in race to tech dominance

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Zhengzhou cityscape with International Convention and Exhibition Center in the central Chinese province of Henan. (Image credit: Bigstock/bspguy)

China’s efforts in supercomputing are picking up steam. The Ministry of Science and Technology recently approved the plan to build the country’s seventh supercomputing center in the central Chinese province of Henan, reported Science and Technology Daily.

Zhengzhou University, home to 11 academicians from China’s Academy of Sciences and Academy of Engineering, will lead the state-funded supercomputing project. The supercomputer in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, will have a peak speed of 100 petaflops (a quadrillion calculations per second), and is expected to launch by 2020.

The project is a hallmark of Beijing’s ambitions to take a lead in a heavily invested technology race against the US. China topped a biannual ranking of the world’s 500 most powerful commercially available supercomputer systems in June 2018, accounting for 206 systems according to a report by The New York Times.

Although the US has just 124, it reclaimed the top spot with an IBM system called Summit, featuring 143 petaflops, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The US Department of Energy in March unveiled a $500 million plan to build a supercomputer capable of handling 200 petaflops, which will be put to use in the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago in 2021.

China is operating six supercomputing centers nationwide, located in Tianjin, Jinan, Changsha, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Wuxi. It introduced the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi in December 2017, the world’s fastest computer in the world at the time (93 petaflops).

The Wuxi Center launched a cloud computing open platform for public use in July for the country’s small- and medium-sized enterprises, reported state broadcaster China Central Television.