Old-tech, big power: How China built an exascale supercomputer using 14 nanometer technology

China’s Exascale Supercomputer Made from 14 nanometer tech

You can see the Sunway OceanLight system at the National Supercomputing Center, located in Wuxi, China.

The OceanLight supercomputer’s architectural details were brought to our attention in a paper by Alibaba Group and Tsinghua University. It was published as part of a collaboration between the four institutions. They are running a machine learning model, called BaGuaLu. This model runs on more than 37,000,000 cores, with 14,5 trillion parameters. As it turns out, these architectural details are also hinted at by three of the six nominees for the Gordon Bell Prize, which we discussed here. We were astonished and embarrassed that we didn’t dive into the architectural details at the time. (We hadn’t seen them revealed). The BaGuaLu newspaper gives us the chance to go back and revisit the subject.

We did a little research before this series of papers was released with the details of the new Sunway many core processor. The National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology, also known as NRCPC, is a national center for parallel computer engineering and technology. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, a Chinese foundry, etched the 260-core SW26010 using 28 nanometer processes. This is not cutting-edge technology. The SW26010 Pro processor is also not on a high-end node. It was etched with 14 nanometer processes. But China is happy to burn coal to cool and power the OceanLight kicker systems based on this processor. Also known as the Sunway Exascale System or the New Generation Sunway Supercomputer.


How China Made An Exascale Supercomputer Out Of Old 14 Nanometer Tech