中国超级计算机跃升世界之巅(图)

2010年10月29日19:35  来源:译言
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  中国超级计算机跃升世界之巅
  A Chinese scientific research center has built the fastest supercomputer ever made, replacing the United States as maker of the swiftest machine, and giving China bragging rights as a technology superpower.

  一个中国的科学研究中心制造出一台世界上运行速度最快的超级计算机,取代了美国在这一领域的制造领先地位,也给了中国一次技术超级大国的吹嘘机会。

  The computer, known as Tianhe-1A, has 1.4 times the horsepower of the current top computer, which is at a national laboratory in Tennessee, as measured by the standard test used to gauge how well the systems handle mathematical calculations, said Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer scientist who maintains the official supercomputer rankings.

  这台著名的计算机“天河一号”,运行速度是当今最顶级计算机的1.4倍,这台顶级计算机位于美国田纳西的国家实验室,用来做标准测试,来衡量系统运行数学计算优劣的标准。田纳西大学计算机科学家杰克?唐格拉(Jack Dongarra)这样表示,他还维护官方的超级计算机的世界排名。

  Although the official list of the top 500 fastest machines, which comes out every six months, is not due to be completed by Mr. Dongarra until next week, he said the Chinese computer “blows away the existing No. 1 machine.” He added, “We don"t close the books until Nov. 1, but I would say it is unlikely we will see a system that is faster.”

  虽然官方超级计算机前500强的排行榜每6个月更新一次,唐格拉先生制作的这份表单到下周才能完成。他表示,中国的这台计算机会“轻松取代目前排名第一的机器”,他还补充说,“我们在11月1号之前不会停止提名,但是我要说现在再出现一个比它更快的机器是不可能的啦”。

  Officials from the Chinese research center, the National University of Defense Technology, are expected to reveal the computer"s performance on Thursday at a conference in Beijing. The center says it is “under the dual supervision of the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Education.”

  预计中国研究中心——中国国防科技大学的领导,周四将在北京举行的一个会议上公布这台计算机的运行能力。这个中心表示它在“国防部和教育部的双重监督下”进行的测试。

  The race to build the fastest supercomputer has become a source of national pride as these machines are valued for their ability to solve problems critical to national interests in areas like defense, energy, finance and science. Supercomputing technology also finds its way into mainstream business; oil and gas companies use it to find reservoirs and Wall Street traders use it for superquick automated trades. Procter & Gamble even uses supercomputers to make sure that Pringles go into cans without breaking.

  制造运行速度最快的超级计算机的竞赛已经成为一个国家自豪的源泉,因为这些机器在解决关键的国家利益方面问题能力上非常有价值,诸如国防,能源,金融和科学。超级计算机技术也会在主流的商业中有用武之地,石油和天然气公司会利用这项技术来勘测储藏地,华尔街的商人们会使用这项技术来进行超快的自动交易,甚至连宝洁公司也会使用这项技术来确保“品客”薯片在不破碎的情况下装入包装罐中。

  And typically, research centers with large supercomputers are magnets for top scientific talent, adding significance to the presence of the machines well beyond just cranking through calculations.

  通常,配备超级计算机的研究中心也会吸引顶尖的科学人才,这就比机器仅仅能运算的意义更深远。

  Over the last decade, the Chinese have steadily inched up in the rankings of supercomputers. Tianhe-1A stands as the culmination of billions of dollars in investment and scientific development, as China has gone from a computing afterthought to a world technology superpower.

  在过去的十多年里,中国在全球的超级计算机排名中稳步渐升。“天河一号”的诞生更是使数十亿美元投资和科学研究的发展攀上高峰,中国已经从原先的计算机技术马后炮变成了世界科技强国。

  “What is scary about this is that the U.S. dominance in high-performance computing is at risk,” said Wu-chun Feng, a supercomputing expert and professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. “One could argue that this hits the foundation of our economic future.”

  弗吉尼亚理工学院和州立大学的一位超级计算机专家和教授冯吴春(Wu-chun Feng音译)表示,“可怕的是,美国在高性能计算机领域的主导地位受到威胁,有人可能会说这会冲击我们的未来经济的基础。”

  Modern supercomputers are built by combining thousands of small computer servers and using software to turn them into a single entity. In that sense, any organization with enough money and expertise can buy what amount to off-the-shelf components and create a fast machine.

  现代的超级计算机由上千台小型计算机服务器组成,利用软件把这些服务器群变成一个统一的实体。从这个意义上说,任何一个组织,只要有足够的资金和充分的专业技术,可以购买足够现成的组件,就能创建一台有高速计算能力的计算机。

  The Chinese system follows that model by linking thousands upon thousands of chips made by the American companies Intel and Nvidia. But the secret sauce behind the system — and the technological achievement — is the interconnect, or networking technology, developed by Chinese researchers that shuttles data back and forth across the smaller computers at breakneck rates, Mr. Dongarra said.

  中国的这套系统就是遵循了这样的连接成千上万个芯片的系统模式,而这些芯片是美国英特尔和Nvidia公司制造的。这套系统背后的秘密核心以及技术成就就是内部互联,也就是网络技术,这是由中国的技术人员研发的,这种技术就可以让数据在极短的时间内在不同计算机之间来回传输,唐格拉先生这样表示。

  “That technology was built by them,” Mr. Dongarra said. “They are taking supercomputing very seriously and making a deep commitment.”

  “这种技术是由他们创造的,谈论它时也讳之莫深。”

  The Chinese interconnect can handle data at about twice the speed of a common interconnect called InfiniBand used in many supercomputers.

  中国的这种网络互联传输数据的速度是在其他许多超级计算机中使用的称为InfiniBand技术的速度的2倍。

  For decades, the United States has developed most of the underlying technology that goes into the massive supercomputers and has built the largest, fastest machines at research laboratories and universities. Some of the top systems simulate the effects of nuclear weapons, while others predict the weather and aid in energy research.

  几十年来,美国已经研发出很多最底层的技术并应用到众多的超级计算机上,并且也在实验室和大学中研制出最大的,运行速度最快的计算机。一些顶级的系统用来模拟核武器的影响,而其他一些则用来预测天气和帮助研究能源问题。

  In 2002, the United States lost its crown as supercomputing kingpin for the first time in stunning fashion when Japan unveiled a machine with more horsepower than the top 20 American computers combined. The United States government responded in kind, forming groups to plot a comeback and pouring money into supercomputing projects. The United States regained its leadership status in 2004, and has kept it, until now.

  在2002年,日本推出一台比美国前20位计算机运行速度更快的计算机,使得美国在超级计算机领域第一次失去的王者的地位。美国政府当时积极回应,组建团队计划重夺桂冠,并向超级计算机研发注入大量资金,到了2004年,美国终于再次成为这一领域的领头羊,并一直维持到现在。

  At the computing conference on Thursday in China, the researchers will discuss how they are using the new system for scientific research in fields like astrophysics and bio-molecular modeling. Tianhe-1A, which is housed in a building at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, can perform mathematical operations about 29 million times faster than one of the earliest supercomputers, built in 1976.

  在周四举行的计算机会议上,中国的研发者们会讨论如何在天体物理学和生物分子模拟等科研领域应用这一新系统,“天河一号”放置在位于天津市的国家超级计算机中心,它的运行速度约是1976年制造的超级计算机的2900万倍。

  For the record, it performs 2.5 times 10 to the 15th power mathematical operations per second.

  根据记录,它每秒可进行2500万亿次数学计算。

  Mr. Dongarra said a long-running Chinese project to build chips to rival those from Intel and others remained under way and looked promising. “It"s not quite there yet, but it will be in a year or two,” he said.

  唐格拉先生说,中国自主制造芯片的能力和英特尔以及其他公司相比还任重道远,但是仍有很大希望,“现在还不行,但是1,2年后就不好说了。”

  He also said that in November, when the list comes out, he expected a second Chinese computer to be in the top five, culminating years of investment.

  他还说,在11月份公布的排行榜中,他预计中国第二强的计算机也会在榜单前5名内,也让多年的投资回报达到顶峰。

  “The Japanese came out of nowhere and really caught people off guard,” Mr. Feng said. “With China, you could see this one coming.”

  冯先生表示,“当年日本不知道从哪里冒出来,但确实让人措手不及。而看看中国,你会看到让世界吃惊的事情又来了。”

  Steven J. Wallach, a well-known computer designer, played down the importance of taking the top spot on the supercomputer rankings.

  著名的计算机设计师史蒂芬J.瓦拉赫(Steven J. Wallach)并不怎么看重超级计算机排行榜的榜首的重要性。

  “It"s interesting, but it"s like getting to the four-minute mile,” Mr. Wallach said. “The world didn"t stop. This is just a snapshot in time.”

  他说,“这很有趣,就像是突破了极限,但是世界不会止步,这仅仅是这个时间段的参考。”

  The research labs often spend weeks tuning their systems to perform well on the standard horsepower test. But just because a system can hammer through trillions of calculations per second does not mean it will do well on the specialized jobs that researchers want to use it for, Mr. Wallach added.

  研究实验室通常耗费数周来调试这个系统,使它在标准功率测试时有良好表现。但是仅仅因为每秒能进行万亿次级别的运算,并不意味着这个系统能在具体的工作中运行良好,而实际应用它正是研究者制造的目的,瓦拉赫补充道。

  The United States has plans in place to make much faster machines out of proprietary components and to advance the software used by these systems so that they are easy for researchers to use. But those computers remain years away, and for now, China is king.

  美国已制定出计划,使用已有的组件制造出更快的计算机,同时升级这些系统使用的软件,以便于研究人员使用。但是,这些计算机仍落后数年,就现在而言,中国是这一领域的王者。

  “They want to show they are No. 1 in the world, no matter what it is,” Mr. Wallach said. “I don"t blame them.”

  瓦拉赫先生说,“不管是何物,他们就是想炫耀他们是世界第一,我并不责怪他们。”

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