According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Commerce issued a ban on export of new electronics, preventing five supercomputing units in China from using components from the United States. The ban will also seriously affect chip makers such as Intel, AMD and NVIDIA.
Why is the supercomputer being named in the trade war escalating? A simple fact: supercomputer is a good child who is being torn up in a divorce between parents. But how good is supercomputer, and what does it mean in the China-US trade war?
First of all, as always, let's go from the beginning
In the eyes of the computer you still use to work and play games, supercomputers are like Superman with our ordinary people. The definition of supercomputers is a bit ambiguous: it will be one of the most powerful computers at any time in history, so there will be more than one Superman in the computer world. As technology continues to grow, the same supercomputer will become smarter.
From that point on, who has in the hands of Superman of the computer world, that person will be strong. So where does the inanimate machine, and "the strongest" mean? Why are they a strategic weapon of a country?
The first programmable electric calculator in history was Colossus, officially operated on December 1, 1943. Because of its use in the war, specifically contributing to the deciphering of the German military code used in communications, secrets about Colossus have been kept secret for 32 years.
Technology continues to grow, computers are more and more capable of handling many tasks at once. By 1960, a new milestone emerged, especially when there were three research supercomputers developed: the Livermore Atomic Research Computer (LARC), IBM 7030 Stretch and University Atlas computers. Manchester.
There are few factors for a computer to reach the "super" milestone. Normally, the number of central processor CPUs determines the power of a supercomputer, when it allows the machine to handle more tasks at once.
IBM 7030 circuit board.
What is a supercomputer supercomputer to do?
In the beginning, supercomputers were used for the purpose of cracking an enemy code or finding the results of a series of complex calculations, after studying a certain aspect. The ability to handle multiple calculations at once is a new turning point, when in the past, we used manpower to calculate and study any problem.
Computers, supercomputers are all starting in the military industry, when calculating the damage of nuclear bombs, contributing to finding the most effective steps when the national tensions are getting fierce. Just like many other military-based technologies, their ability can reach out more when applied to science or daily life.
There is an intuitive example that the weather forecast appears on your smartphone screen. It can be analyzed into: a pocket computer that receives the data analyzed from a supercomputer. Yes, thanks to the weather simulation model and analysis of data such as sea weather and atmospheric winds, supercomputers predict the weather in the near future.
But the power of supercomputers does not stop at "weather forecasts".
In each stage, the supercomputer has new goals:
In the 1970s, supercomputers were used in weather forecasting and aerodynamic research, helping to build cars, airplanes and cosmic missiles (and fighting missiles too).
In the 1980s, people used supercomputers to find the probability, to make a model of radioactive emulation. This is a hot time in history, when the Cold War just happened with the risk of a nuclear war, just as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred.
In the 1990s, supercomputers were brute force cryptanalysis machines, that is to constantly try and sort to find the right answer.
In the 2000s, we used supercomputers to create a simulated 3D model of a nuclear bomb test, which was based on the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty.
Ten years after the above timeline, we are using supercomputers to model the quantum environment simulator, observe the Universe, find new remedies (a strenuous process that can last tens of years without supercomputers). We are applying the power of supercomputers to science thoroughly.
In the present day, it can solve difficult economic problems, when there are too many numbers and variables appear, when the relationship between many components is too complicated. A powerful supercomputer country will take advantage of any conflict between them and the opposing force.
And another aspect of technology, artificial intelligence, is getting bigger thanks to the supercomputing power of computing and data analysis.
Then we have a real problem: the two existing powers, the United States and China, are competing for more in the fierce trade war. The two sides will use up all the chess pieces in their hands to make it difficult for the opponent to gain the upper hand. Rare earth has stepped on the scale table, and now is super computer.
A new battlefield appears
Of the four most powerful supercomputers of the moment, the United States is the more active: the first two belong to IBM's supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, followed by Thai Ho Quang and Thien Ha-2 of China.
Thai Ho Quang supercomputer.
In a race, everyone wants to be at the top and no one wants to stop at the current supercomputing power. Both the US and China are aiming to produce the "exascale" supercomputer, which calculates a billion billion calculations per second (the new Summit "only" gets 200 million billion calculations per second).
To make it easy to imagine: an exascale supercomputer calculated in a second is equivalent to every person on Earth having to calculate each calculation in a second, all day and continuously for 4 years.
The ban on parts exports will affect the Chinese supercomputing process more or less: Sugon supercomputer maker and 3 other brother companies will be affected, Jiangnan Institute of Computational Technology is the fifth victim.
But the ban could counteract the unexpected American way: they could win in the short term, but would be equivalent to speeding up the development of China's homegrown chip. When they make chips themselves, it's hard to imagine how supercomputer power will be customized.
This will be a difficult problem for both sides, but maybe a supercomputer strong enough will solve it?