[ExI] World’s Biggest Supercomputing Superpowers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Tue Sep 21 20:43:49 UTC 2010

2010/9/21 John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>

> On Sep 21, 2010, at 1:15 PM, Dave Sill wrote:
> The probability that DOD or NSA *don't* have any supercomputers that
> aren't listed on the Top 500 is close enough to zero that I'll take it as a
> fact.
> I wouldn't know how to even begin to measure the probability for something
> like that, and I doubt if you do either.

I don't know how to calculate (is there a way to measure probability?) the
probably that the Earth is spherical, either, but I know and believe enough
to say with confidence that it's high.

> I also have inside information, but I'm not at liberty to share it.
> Then what's the point of mentioning it?

It might mean something to someone who knows me well enough to know that I
know what I'm talking about, or to someone who remembers where I work. I've
laid hands on Jaguar, for example.

> It's interesting that on the list of the 500 most powerful computers in the
> world the microprocessors in all but 3 of the machines were made by Intel
> AMD or IBM, all are companies based in the USA. The three exception were
> number 37, 42 and 383 on the list which had Japanese microprocessors. Nobody
> used Chinese processors including the Chinese.
>  It hardly matters. These are commodity chips.
> Memory chips are commodities, microprocessors are not.

Jaguar has AMD Opterons. You may not be able to buy them by the pound, but
they're readily available.

> It's also interesting that the operating system for almost all the
> supercomputers on the list is Linux, and China didn't develop that either.
> When IBM made their first PC almost 30 years ago it made a very big splash,
> they thought they owned the home computer market and for a short time they
> did; but IBM didn't control the microprocessor or the operating system.
> Today IBM no longer makes PC computers.

Yes, that's all interesting. How is it relevant to China's ability to top
the Top 500?

> China could probably produce them if they really wanted to
> I imagine China would rather like to control a vital and very profitable
> multi billion dollar industry that has profound military implications, but
> they don't.

Producing chips is not the same as controlling an industry. I didn't say
China could control the microprocessor industry if they wanted to. Maybe
they could, maybe they couldn't. But I have no doubt that they could build a
fab and clone AMD or Intel CPUs if they *really* wanted to.

> but why bother?
> That's the thing, starting a microprocessor industry from scratch would be
> a very large bother indeed.

Again, I never said anything about an industry, just chips.

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