Defined: What’s a supercomputer? How the US will determine who to punish with ‘ban’ on Chinese language tech


Deciding who will get damage by sweeping new US curbs on promoting expertise to China will come down partly to what constitutes a “supercomputer,” consultants instructed Reuters.

World wide, the semiconductor trade on Friday started to wrestle with wide-ranging U.S. restrictions on promoting chips and chip manufacturing gear to China.

Shares of chip gear makers drooped, however trade consultants stated a brand new U.S. definition of a supercomputer might be pivotal to the brand new guidelines’ impression on China.

“Knowledge middle build-outs like Alibaba or ByteDance would have the potential to succeed in petaflop build-outs,” stated CCS Insight chip analyst Wayne Lam stated.

The brand new definition is unlikely to vary as trade expertise improves. Present-day Chinese language supercomputers could someday change into the company commonplace, however they may nonetheless face the boundaries imposed Friday to cease any chip made with U.S. gear or expertise from going into China. Firms “could very effectively run into supercomputing limitations inside the subsequent couple of years,” Lam stated.

Jack Dongarra, a professor of pc science who helps lead a bunch referred to as TOP500 that ranks the world’s quickest supercomputers, stated he disagreed with the static definition.

“The difficulty is that the definition of a supercomputer will change over time,” he stated by electronic mail.

Main Chinese language firms with large knowledge facilities comparable to Baidu, Alibaba and ByteDance didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. Tencent declined to remark.

The definition of computing energy per cubic foot additionally could supply room for artistic workarounds. As an illustration, stated one professional, use fiber optic cables to tie collectively immense computing energy over a bigger house.

“They may unfold their supercomputers out over a bigger house,” stated one chip and knowledge middle professional who requested anonymity because of the politically charged nature of the brand new guidelines.

“The common supercomputer architect would say, ‘That is not how issues are achieved!’ However not having the ability to do it one other approach breeds a variety of creativity, and willingness to do issues otherwise.”

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