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China Details Homemade Supercomputer Plan

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Loongson 3 chip

A prototype four-core Loongson 3 processor will be produced at commercial scale by STMicroelectronics starting this year.

Credit: Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Researchers at the Chinese Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) have built a supercomputer using only home-grown microprocessors. The supercomputer, known as the Dawning 6000, will run Linux and will be completed by mid 2010 at the latest, says ICT's Weiwu Hu.

The Dawning 6000 is part of ICT's Loongson family of computers, which all will use chips based on the MIPS instruction set. The new supercomputer uses Loongson 3 chips in clusters of up to 16 cores.

"This is a very high-performance MIPS architecture where, when it's run in a cluster configuration, it becomes very powerful," says MIPS Technologies' Art Swift. Some analysts estimate this configuration could require as few as 782 16-core chips.

The main differences between the Loongson 3 chip and earlier versions is that it includes hardware translation of x86 instructions and it uses multiple cores, each capable of processing commands independently. One component not included in the Loongson 3 is multithreading, which allows a single core to execute multiple instructions simultaneously, and is included in some Intel and Sun chips. The Loongson 3 could be used in everything from desktop computers to set-top boxes.

From Technology Review
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