China’s Progress in Exascale Computing

Exascale computing (quicker than 1 billion billion operations per second) is well accepted as the next crown of supercomputing.

Its research and development (R&D) plan is the forefront of creation and competition of high-end information technology. Both the US and Japan have drawn up their exascale computing plan for the production of an exascale computer by 2020 or later. says in its report “Breaking boycott! Tianhe 3 exascale computing prototype has passed acceptance test” that China drew up a plan in 2016 on 2-phase development of exascale computers. The first phase focuses on the research of key technology for exascale computer with the production of 3 prototypes of exascale computer while the second phase will be the research and development of exascale computers.

Lead by the National University of Defense Technology, China has developed Tianhe 3 exascale prototype system and has it passed acceptance test on July 22. China has thus begun the second phase of essential R&D of Tianhe 3 exascale computer 200 times quicker and with memory capacity 100 times larger than Tianhe 1.

Since 2015, the US has banned the export of supercomputer CPU to China to prevent Tianhe from maintaining its no. one ranking among supercomputers in the world. However, China is entirely able to obtain crown technology on its own. It has now succeeded in mastery of five major homegrown core technologies of Tianhe series of supercomputers: the CPU, accelerating CPU, the interlink communication router and interlink interface chips and the operation system (the software).

At present, the Tianhe 3 exascale prototype system has achieved 4 major homegrown creations, i.e. the three chips of the “Maichang” multi-core processor (Matrix-2000+), interlinking interface chip and router chip, 4 kinds of calculation, storage and services knobs, more than 10 PCP circuit boards, various new-type hardware subsystems and various software subsystems.

That will enable Tianhe 3 exascale computer to do lots of jobs such as Large-scale space and aviation data wind tunnel, weather forecasting, climate research, oil and gas exploration, excessively large scale calculation and simulation for life scientific research, the development of a new generation of artificial intelligence, etc.

Those, including the exascale supercomputer are indeed crown jewels of technology. Can China steal those crown jewels from the US? Sorry, the US is also developing such technologies but cannot be sure to achieve results before China. Can China steal from the US what the US does not have?

Therefore, to stop China obtaining those crown jewels no one in the world has now, US only and last resort is to start a trade war with China.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on’s report, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at