China is a strange place.

Now fair enough, you can say that about anywhere, but China really is a strange place to us in the West. It’s strange because a short while ago historically, it was an incredibly insular, backwards civilization living in the past. Then it tried communism on for size, and became a repressive, insular, backwards civilization living in the past.

And then it began to open its borders, and has become the world’s manufacturing center – one of them, at least.

Which makes me wonder why countries like America bother to create barriers to exporting the kinds of technology that China has been busy trying to understand for the last twenty years or so whilst it’s been extremely busy building it for everyone. Did you know America’s government still thinks that encryption outside of America is “theoretical”? Don’t make me laugh – encryption outside of America is superior, because it’s not been deliberately weakened by laws intended to allow governments to crack it.

Anyway, China recently unveiled the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight. It runs at about 93 petaflops, and crushes the competition. Apparently it’s a lot faster than its older sibling (and previous record holder), the Tianhe-2, which ran at about 34 petaflops. That’s three times faster, roughly.

The funny thing is, the Tianhe-2 ran on Xeon chips, from Intel. The Sunway doesn’t.

China made its own chips, created its own hardware platform, modified open source software and then absolutely went ahead and smashed the records, again. It would have been created using American technology, updated Xeons from Intel, but America decided they couldn’t have that… and China shrugged and didn’t care.

America’s a funny place.


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