The United States is losing the supercomputer challenge with China
The challenge between the United States and China is not played only on the strategic side but also on the technology sector. Indeed, it is from 5G and from the war launched by Donald Trump against Huawei that it was understood that the dispute between Washington and Beijing it was more than just a scuffle over penalties and tariffs. Within this tech panorama, the chapter linked to supercomputers is gaining more and more importance.
The United States, in particular, is about to enter a new era of supercomputing, with a leap forward in processing power that will have a major effect on fields ranging from climate change research to nuclear weapons testing. But beware, because China passed this milestone first and is already well on its way to building an entire generation of advanced supercomputers, beyond anything still in use elsewhere.
The idea of a China forced to follow Western technological innovations and which comes in tow is now definitively outdated. To prove Beijing’s advantage is that China has achieved this with indigenous technology, after Washington blocked access to American hardware, long considered critical to these systems. A clear signal of technological and therefore strategic self-sufficiency that is fundamental to say the least.
Thus China is building its technological leadership
More advanced supercomputers are used to improve simulations of highly complex systems, for example to create better models of climate change or the effects of nuclear explosions. But beware: As the Financial Times warns, their covert use in classified areas, such as to defeat cryptography, will likely make them key tools in the homeland security industry as well.
There China already had the largest number of supercomputers in the Top 500 list of the most powerful computers in the world than in any other country: 186 versus 123 in the United States. Now, by beating the United States in the next big breakthrough in the industry and designing a series of machines of this type, he is able to take the lead in computing for years to come.
The Chinese turning point came in the rush to construction of the so-called exascale supercomputers, systems capable of handling 10 at the power of 18 calculations per second. This makes them a thousand times faster than the first petaflop systems that preceded them more than a decade ago.
China has not officially disclosed that it has two exascale systems. But their existence was confirmed late last year. This is a crucial aspect in the dispute between powers, because the country that has supercomputers more advanced has a clear advantage in national defense over his opponents. In fact, supercomputers can also support applied technological research in the military field.
The technological challenge is also a military challenge
China also focuses heavily on the very famous fusion between civil and military, which helps Beijing to acquire technologies useful for its development in the sector. And, be warned, only 273 equipment suppliers identified by the study are included in the US sanctions and control regimes. The Pentagon is watching closely, also given the recent developments on the hypersonic missile launch during the summer. In recent weeks, however, an unmanned aircraft has been shot down by a powerful electromagnetic pulse while on its way about 1500 meters above sea level during a China Eletronics Technology Group experiment. Chinese scientists, according to the South China Morning Post, are working on the creation of an 80 gigawatt electromagnetic weapon.
The field of artificial intelligence is believed to be crucial. “China has already won the battle over artificial intelligence and in 15-20 years we will have no chance to compete“, declared a few months ago Nicolas Chaillan, the software manager of the Pentagon who has recently resigned to protest against the slow pace of the technological transformation of the American army. Beijing is getting stronger, at a technological level and therefore also at a military level.Read also:
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