China recently has fully embraced high-performance computing and now has 72 systems on the most recent Top500 supercomputer list, making it the second largest HPC user in the world behind the United States. Part of China's strategy includes building an indigenous tech industry. "What I think is interesting is the dedication [in China] to creating a home-grown economy for computing," says Argonne National Laboratory's Pete Beckman. He says the biggest challenge in HPC is the development of an exascale system that is 1,000 times more powerful than the petaflop systems being deployed today.
"I personally believe there is no way to achieve these goals [of building an exascale system] by any one government, one country — it far exceeds what people are going to invest and also exceeds the technical talent, so collaboration — that's easy," says U.S. Department of Energy researcher William Harrod.
Intersect360 Research CEO Addison Snell thinks the Chinese could construct an exaflop computer by 2020. "The U.S. may intend to wait for a more sophisticated design, but it will have to deal in the meantime with the public perception that China will have passed us by," he says.
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