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posted by on Thursday April 09 2015, @05:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the my-processor-can-beat-up-your-processor dept.

According to VR World and HPCwire, the U.S. government has blacklisted "high technology" shipments to the National Supercomputing Center Changsha (NSCC-CS), National Supercomputing Center Guangzhou (NSCC-GZ), National Supercomputing Center Tianjin (NSCC-TJ), and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China. This effectively means that these major supercomputing facilities can no longer purchase Intel Xeon chips. Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer since June 2013 according to Top500, is located at the NUDT in Guangzhou and uses a total of 32,000 Intel Xeon and 48,000 Xeon Phi chips.

The main claim of the Bureau of Industry and Security's End-User Review Committee (ERC) is that NUDT, which used US-manufactured parts to produce the Tianhe-1A and Tianhe-2 supercomputers located at the National Supercomputing Centers in Changsha, Guangzhou, and Tianjin, is believed to be engaged in activities related to nuclear explosives.

The U.S. also uses supercomputers for nuclear weapons research.

The news coincides with the Intel Developer Forum 2015 in Shenzhen, China, at which the company announced new Braswell, SoFIA, and Cherry Trail chips, among other products. VR World speculates that the move could cost Intel $1 billion on lost Broadwell-EP Xeon E5v4 sales and accelerate the development of homegrown Chinese processors.

Related Stories

U.S. Export Restrictions Lead to Chinese Homegrown Supercomputing Chips 33 comments

The Platform reports that CPU export restrictions to Chinese supercomputing centers may have backfired. Tianhe-2 has remained the world's top supercomputer for the last five iterations of the TOP500 list using a heterogeneous architecture that mixes Intel's Xeon and Xeon Phi chips. Tianhe-2 will likely be upgraded to Tianhe-2A within the next year (rather than by the end of 2015 as originally planned), nearly doubling its peak performance from 54.9 petaflops to around 100 petaflops, while barely raising peak power usage. However, instead of using a new Intel Xeon Phi chip, a homegrown "China Accelerator" and novel architecture will be used.

A few details about the accelerator are known:

Unlike other [digital signal processor (DSP)] efforts that were aimed at snapping into supercomputing systems, this one is not a 32-bit part, but is capable of supporting 64-bit and further, it can also support both single (as others do) and double-precision. As seen below, the performance for both single and double precision is worth remarking upon (around 2.4 single, 4.8 double teraflops for one card) in a rather tiny power envelope. It will support high bandwidth memory as well as PCIe 3.0. In other words, it gives GPUs and Xeon Phi a run for the money—but the big question has far less to do with hardware capability and more to do with how the team at NUDT will be able to build out the required software stack to support applications that can gobble millions of cores on what is already by far the most core-dense machine on the planet.


Original Submission

China Tightens Control on Export of Drones and Supercomputers 21 comments

In the name of national security, China is restricting export of certain drones and computers:

From August 15, manufacturers of certain powerful drones and computers will have to give technical details to the authorities to obtain a licence prior to export, Xinhua news agency says.

[...] In the first five months of 2015, China exported some 160,000 civilian drones, a jump of 70 per cent year-on-year, worth more than $120 million, the official China Daily newspaper reported in July.

[...] The tightening of regulations comes two weeks after an incident in disputed Kashmir in which the Pakistani army claimed to have shot down an Indian "spy drone", reportedly Chinese-made.

China is also likely tightening controls on exports of powerful computers as it looks to maintain its edge in the global supercomputer battle long dominated by US-Japanese rivalry.

Starting August 15th, drone and supercomputer manufacturers will have to present technical details to the authorities in order to get a license to export.

takyon: Intel Launches New Chips in China as US Bans Sales to Supercomputing Centers
U.S. Export Restrictions Lead to Chinese Homegrown Supercomputing Chips


Original Submission

Chinese Company Produces Chips Closely Based on AMD's Zen Microarchitecture 33 comments

China Finds Zen: Begins Production Of x86 Processors Based On AMD's IP

Chinese-designed "Dhyana" x86 processors based on AMD's Zen microarchitecture are beginning to surface from Chinese chip producer Hygon. The processors come as the fruit of AMD's x86 IP licensing agreements with its China-based partners and break the decades-long stranglehold on x86 held by the triumvirate of Intel, AMD and VIA Technologies. Details are also emerging that outline how AMD has managed to stay within the boundaries of the x86 licensing agreements but still allow Chinese-controlled interests to design and sell processors based on the Zen design.

AMD's official statements indicate the company does not sell its final chip designs to its China-based partners. Instead, AMD allows them to design their own processors tailored for the Chinese server market. But the China-produced Hygon "Dhyana" processors are so similar to AMD's EPYC processors that Linux kernel developers have listed vendor IDs and family series numbers as the only difference. In fact, Linux maintainers have simply ported over the EPYC support codes to the Dhyana processor and note that they have successfully run the same patches on AMD's EPYC processors, implying there is little to no differentiation between the chips.

The new chips are surfacing against the backdrop of the trade war between the US and China that could escalate quickly, likely reinforcing China's long-held opinion that a lack of native processor production could be a strategic liability. Today's wars are won with chips, and their strategic importance certainly isn't lost on those in the halls of power. In fact, the Obama administration blocked Intel from selling Xeon processors to China in 2015 over concerns the chips were fueling the country's nuclear programs, and subsequent actions by the US have largely prevented China from achieving the technical know-how and equipment to develop its own chips through acquisitions and mergers.

That makes it even more surprising that AMD has managed to establish a franchise that allows Chinese processor vendors to develop and sell x86 processors in spite of US regulations and the licensing restrictions with Intel, but now more information is coming to light about how AMD pulled off the feat.

Related: Intel Launches New Chips in China as US Bans Sales to Supercomputing Centers
Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation
Data Centers Consider Intel's Rivals
Tencent Chairman Pledges to Advance China Chip Industry After ZTE "Wake-Up" Call


Original Submission

More on AMD's Licensing of Epyc Server Chips to Chinese Companies 13 comments

Chinese companies are manufacturing chips nearly identical to AMD's Epyc server CPUs, using two joint ventures with AMD. This move comes after the US blacklisted certain Chinese supercomputing centers in 2015 in an attempt to prevent them from using Intel Xeon chips, and more recently, Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE was banned from buying components from US companies. China's Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer (formerly #1 on the TOP500 list) also uses domestically designed Sunway SW26010 manycore chips.

AMD's Epyc "clone army" may end up hurting Intel's server chip market share even more than it already has:

China isn't eager to embrace another American chipmaker like AMD. In response, AMD established two joint ventures with Chinese holding company THATIC -- one with Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology (CHMT), and another with Haiguang IC Design, also known as Hygon.

AMD owns a majority stake in CHMT, which ensures that its IP isn't transferred to THATIC. THATIC owns a majority stake in Hygon, which licenses AMD's IP from CHMT. Hygon designs the chips, and CHMT produces the chips through a suitable foundry and then sends them back to Hygon for packaging, marketing, and sales.

This arrangement seemingly placates American and Chinese regulators -- AMD's IP isn't being passed to a Chinese company, and a Chinese chipmaker gains access to superior data center CPU designs. AMD generates less revenues through these JVs than it would through direct sales, but it still gains a foothold in China's massive data center market. But more importantly, this move could wound Intel.

Good luck maintaining control of your "IP". As for the pain?

Many big companies, including Microsoft and Baidu, started installing AMD's cheaper chips in their data centers. In a meeting with Nomura Instinet analyst Romit Shah in June, then-CEO Brian Krzanich admitted that AMD was gaining ground, and Intel was trying to prevent it from gaining a "15% to 20%" share of the data center market. That admission was stunning, since Intel traditionally controlled more than 99% of the data center market with its Xeon chips. Intel's data center group grew its revenues by 11% to $19.1 billion last year, and accounted for 30% of its top line. Epyc was already a thorn in Intel's side, but AMD's sponsorship of Chinese clones could throttle its sales in mainland China, which accounted for 24% of its sales last year. Its total sales in the region only rose 6% in 2017, compared to 20% growth in 2016.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by c0lo on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:07AM

    by c0lo (156) on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:07AM (#168196) Journal

    ShenWei SW-3 [wikipedia.org] - 190 GFlops at 1.1 GHZ (65 nm)
    Xeon E3 1245v3 (Haswell) [pugetsystems.com] - 170 GFlops at 3.6 GHz (22 nm)

    Conclusion: China only needs a 22 nm chip foundry - (got its own technology in late 2012 [zdnet.com])

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:57AM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:57AM (#168218) Homepage
      Where did the 190 figure come from? The link you provided says "140.8 GFLOPS @ 1.1 GHz"
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:48AM

        by c0lo (156) on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:48AM (#168268) Journal
        My bad, a typo.
        Conclusion still stands.
        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:32PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:32PM (#168346)

      Comparing processors of different architectures is misleading. SW-3 is over five years old and heavily based on an Alpha processor. Sticking more Alphas on the die and shrinking will only get you so far. When it comes to supercomputers it is difficult to compare hardware. For example:
      GTX Titan X [wikipedia.org] - 6,144 GFlops at ~1 GHz (28 nm)

      --
      SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:14AM

    by c0lo (156) on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:14AM (#168198) Journal
    Intel offers olive branch of investment for growth [www.ecns.cn] (Intel not only lost sales, but also forced to invest to keep the market opened for them)

    Intel Corp said on Wednesday that it will invest 120 million yuan ($19.3 million) to promote grass roots technology innovation in China amid deepening mistrust over information security between the United States and China.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:26AM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:26AM (#168200) Homepage Journal

    That's a pretty pathetic and useless gesture. The only real effect is going to be to encourage China to move to processors that they make in-country. Meanwhile, if they need Intel stuff, they will just buy it through an intermediary.

    Anyone in the know about US-China relations? Is the US really this clueless, or does this political grandstanding have some purpose?

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by c0lo on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:37AM

      by c0lo (156) on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:37AM (#168203) Journal

      That's a pretty pathetic and useless gesture.

      May be a bit worse than that.
      Seems like a pissing contest is in progress, on who has the fasterest super-computer [pcworld.com].
      If so, I wonder what's the fuss? Like... why having the biggest dick matters when it comes to supercomputing? Does it matter enough to hurt your own industry?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by t-3 on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:48AM

        by t-3 (4907) on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:48AM (#168215)

        International politics is just gangbanging on a grand scale. It doesn't make sense because it shouldn't to any rational minded modern human.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hendrikboom on Thursday April 09 2015, @01:23PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) on Thursday April 09 2015, @01:23PM (#168308) Homepage Journal

        Supercomputers are nowadays essential for weather forecasting.

        And superior weather forecasting was essential in timing the successful D-day invasion years before I was even born.

        I'm not sure there's a valid syllogism here, but...

        • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:32PM

          by opinionated_science (4031) on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:32PM (#168347)

          and drug design, nuclear weapons safety, fusion reactor models and design, car design, airplane design, clinical statistics etc...

          Computers (super or not) are the the engine that turns ideas into things that can be manufactured, for much less physical outlay.

          The more detail you need, the more maths you need, the bigger the computer you need.

          Many physical problem scale at N^2 or worse...

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday April 09 2015, @09:03PM

            by c0lo (156) on Thursday April 09 2015, @09:03PM (#168496) Journal

            The more detail you need, the more maths you need, the bigger the computer you need.

            Would purely the need is the driver, why not: "we built it because we need it", but "we must build a bigger one only because China beat us. And to make sure it won't happen again soon, we embargo the tech for China"?

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mrchew1982 on Saturday April 11 2015, @04:00AM

      by mrchew1982 (3565) on Saturday April 11 2015, @04:00AM (#168888)

      Could be related to the territorial disputes in the south china sea. China knows that the US is hamstrung in the middle east (and China might be helping behind the scenes to destabilize things there to keep the US busy...) So they've been throwing their weight around in Asia pretty much unchecked.

      The US might have erred too much in neutering Japan after WW2, although China's rise to power was pretty much inevitable... Probably wouldn't have mattered. If you look though, the west has invaded pretty much all of those territories at one time or another; Korea is still a mess which won't end any time soon.

      Back to the processors, I agree its just an annoyance. Even so, It's not simple to switch processors when you've standardized a supercomputer on a particular architecture. And It does have to make them wonder how far we'll go if they push the west further, for them to build it in the first place I would bet that they never thought that we'd do something like this. The embargoes against Russia have succeeded pretty well in stalling their economy, so China has to be ever so slightly worried. Without markets for their goods it would be interesting to see what would happen to China...

  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:53AM

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday April 09 2015, @07:53AM (#168217) Homepage
    So it will be boom time for Intel's Israeli offices?
    --
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by VortexCortex on Thursday April 09 2015, @08:37AM

      by VortexCortex (4067) on Thursday April 09 2015, @08:37AM (#168231)

      Welcome to the terrorist watchlist. :^)

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:09AM (#168264)

        Surely posting as an AC makes me anonymous right? right?

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @09:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @09:16AM (#168240)

    >related to nuclear explosives

    China has been investing heavily in Thorium.

    Chances are, they're using the super computers to further their research.

    Lockheed's fusion will flop, China will dominate energy production with LFTR, and I'll die right.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @06:40PM (#168441)

      a bussard collector wont work in interstellar space if it needs to collect thorium atoms and you might want to die on this planet .. others don t.

  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:13PM

    by looorg (578) on Thursday April 09 2015, @02:13PM (#168335)

    Couldn't they just buy AMD? Otherwise I guess this might just be the thing that will fuel China's desire to make their own chips and CPU then. I do wonder if they will be x86/64 compatible or they'll make something new. As long as they are totally compatible I guess the winner could be the consumer with new and lower prices. I'm sure they could reverse-engineer some Intel chips by now without to many problems.

  • (Score: 2) by middlemen on Thursday April 09 2015, @03:17PM

    by middlemen (504) on Thursday April 09 2015, @03:17PM (#168365) Homepage

    makes sense to ban the NUDiTy in China...

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @10:36PM (#168530)

      Yeah, ban that godawful hairy stuff.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @11:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09 2015, @11:00PM (#168538)

    Never heard of the ShenWei, looks pretty interesting. Does anyone know if it has use outside of the Chinese HPC sector?
    JiangSu's Loongson processors leave something to be desired, even the latest hex-core Godson 3B does not fare well performance-wise. See benchmarks: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1404098-SO-3B1W2703307 [openbenchmarking.org]

    The Elbrus 8 from Russia should also be released sometime this year. http://www.mcst.ru/vosmiyadernyj-mikroprocessor-s-arkhitekturoj-elbrus [www.mcst.ru]