China ‘cheated’ when announcing the power of supercomputers

As of October this year, China has at least two supercomputers that have crossed the exascale limit – many times faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers. And recently, Chinese researchers have posted test results showing that Sunway Oceanlite, one of the two supercomputers mentioned above, has simulated the 53-qubit Sycamore circuit board – the quantum computer architecture introduced by Google. introduced a few years ago in just 304 seconds.

This speed is millions of times faster than the US Summit supercomputer, it can take up to 10,000 years to perform this simulation.

This helped Sunway Oceanlite win the Gordol Bell Award, which is awarded for supercomputing systems that are millions of times faster than the Summit supercomputer.

The truth behind the speed is millions of times faster than the opponent

China’s supercomputer is faster but by no means is it more powerful than the US supercomputer, the difference lies in the accuracy of doing that calculation.

To measure the performance of supercomputers, people rely on the number of double-precision (64-bit) floating-point operations per second, or FP64 FLOPS, as measured by the LINPACK benchmark score.

However, because the computation time will be significantly shortened if the processor executes FLOPS with lower accuracy, the FP64 FLOPS index obtained in the LINPACK benchmark is used as a common standard to measure the performance. supercomputer performance is the FP64 FLOPS index.

And the Chinese engineers reduced the precision of the calculation, from double precision (64-bit) to single precision (32-bit) so that their supercomputer could do the simulation. in a very short time compared to the competition. This is similar to tricks when benchmarking PC computers.

Chinese researchers present Sunway Oceanlite supercomputer achieving performance of 1.2 EFLOPS (each EFLOPS equals 1 trillion floating point operations per second) with single precision, or 4.4 EFLOPS with precision mixed-case, using 41.9 million Sunway cores.

As estimated by the Asian Technology Information Program (ATIP), Sunway Oceanlite has stable performance at about 1050 PFLOPS (1.05 EFLOPS). This performance makes Sunway Oceanlite the second most powerful supercomputer in China, behind the Tianhe-3 supercomputer with stable performance of 1300 PFLOPS (1.3 EFLOPS). It is currently housed at the National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou, China.

In October 2021, both Chinese supercomputers were tested using the LINPACK benchmark (meaning the results correspond to FP64 FLOPS) and both scored much higher than the US Summit supercomputer ( 200 PFLOPS).

However, Chinese researchers have not posted the benchmark scores of these two supercomputers on specialized sites like Top500.org. They only post Gordon Bell results – where they do tricks to get higher scores.

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