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Local supercomputer hits top 10

A DOMESTICALLY developed supercomputer - the fastest electronic brain in Asia - started regular operations yesterday in Shanghai, marking a major milestone in China's information technology industry.

A supercomputer can provide significant societal benefits, propelling scientific research and industrial design. It is also evidence that a country's technological prowess has reached a high point on the global tech scale.

The Shanghai-based machine, called the Magic Cube, boasts a peak performance of 200 teraflops, or 200 trillion calculations per second, 20 times faster than the previous model. It ranks No. 10 on the world's list of speedy computers, and is the only one made outside the United States to earn a place in the top 10.

The supercomputer, code-named Dawning5000, cost 200 million yuan (US$29 million) to build, with the central and Shanghai governments each contributing half the investment.

"The upgraded supercomputer will meet the demand of local and national users in a wide range of applications and contribute to Shanghai's goal to become an international financial and shipping center," Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday during a conference at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center in Pudong New Area.

The new machine will help the center provide services for more users, some of whom had to line up for as long as two weeks to use the old supercomputer.

During the conference, the center signed agreements with industrial giants and major research organizations for use of the Magic Cube, including the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Co (Group), Baosteel Group Co, Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The supercomputer will contribute to six high-tech sectors that the city's focusing on through 2020: new energy, civil aviation manufacturing, advanced equipment, biological medicine, new-energy vehicles and new materials, according to Wang Jian, director of the city's economic and IT industry promotion commission.

The use of a supercomputer can help an aircraft or auto manufacturer shave up to 60 percent off the research period for developing new cars or planes, for instance.

The machine will also be used to crunch population trends and environmental protection data and produce weather forecasts.


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