Supercomputer: Start from scratch to gain speed and apply "dual advantage"

  Our reporter Guo Guozhong correspondent Duan Fang

  In the future, my country’s scientific research team will continue to focus on improving the country’s scientific and technological innovation capabilities, based on the “Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake” supercomputer, to further solve major scientific issues in the fields of climate, environment, life, materials and manufacturing, and to study high-performance computing. Core technology, improve the application level of high-performance computing, and train high-performance computing talents.

  Yang Guangwen

  Director of the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi

  High-performance supercomputers are an important "commanding height" for developed countries in the world, and play a pivotal role in supporting national security, economic and social development.

Therefore, accelerating the development of supercomputers and promoting the application of supercomputers are of great significance to my country's scientific research, promotion of technological innovation, and promotion of high-quality economic and social development.

  For more than 40 years, my country's supercomputers have experienced a difficult development process from scratch, from following to partial leadership, from the introduction of key core technologies to the realization of independent and controllable development.

  Dare to break through the blockade, our country’s supercomputing technology is no longer controlled by others

  "For many years, the competition between China, the United States, Japan and other countries in the field of supercomputers is actually the competition between scientific and technological strength and comprehensive national power." Zhang Yunquan, a researcher at the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that generations of supercomputers in my country have succeeded in creating remarkable achievements. "Miracle".

Up to now, domestic supercomputers such as Tianhe-2 and "Shenwei·Taihu Light" have won 10 world firsts in the international supercomputer competition.

  In the memory of Yang Guangwen, director of the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, the international demand for supercomputers has soared after the first supercomputer came out in the 1970s.

Developed countries have made many breakthroughs in key industries by using supercomputers.

At that time, the United States, Japan and other countries blocked China on some key core technologies.

  At that time, due to the lack of high-performance computers in our country, some of the data and information of petroleum deposits had to be sent abroad for processing by plane, which was not only expensive but also subject to others.

  At that time, our country proposed to a developed country to import a supercomputer with not very high performance, but the other party replied: It is necessary to build a six-sided opaque "safe zone" for this machine, so that it can enter the "safe zone". It can only be the staff of the Paris Coordinating Organization.

  In 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Party was held, which opened the prelude to reform and opening up.

That is, in this year, my country officially launched the development of supercomputers.

  "Why develop its own supercomputer? Because China wants to engage in four modernizations, it cannot be without supercomputers!" Yang Guangwen told a reporter from Science and Technology Daily that a supercomputer consists of a large number of computing nodes, and each computing node is composed of some CPUs (central processing units). Component, the computing nodes are connected by a high-speed interconnection network.

In addition, the entire system also includes large-scale storage systems, system software, application software, and cooling systems.

Therefore, in a short period of time, it is not easy for my country to make a major breakthrough in the core technology of supercomputers and to be in the forefront of the world.

  However, our country's scientific researchers have not been intimidated by the immediate difficulties.

At that time, they had only one idea in their minds: to build their own giant computers as soon as possible, and to no longer be technically constrained by others.

  From 1978 to 1983, the R&D team undertaking this task worked hard day and night, solved countless basic theory, technology and manufacturing process problems, and conquered hundreds of key technologies. Difficulties, creatively proposed the "dual vector array" structure and completed the overall design, and successfully developed the "Galaxy-I" supercomputer one year earlier than the original plan.

  On December 26, 1983, my country’s first billion-times supercomputer "Galaxy-I" officially passed the national technical appraisal. The system reached and exceeded the predetermined performance indicators. The machine was stable and reliable as a whole, and only the original plan was used. /5.

  This marks that China has become one of the few countries in the world that can independently design and develop billion-times supercomputers.

  Facing the needs of the country, realizing true safety, autonomy and controllability

  "Since 2002, after 15 years of rapid development, China's supercomputers have achieved safety, independence, and control." Yang Guangwen said.

  In the past 10 years, my country has reorganized the research and development of supercomputers from the perspective of software and applications based on independent controllable supercomputer systems, serving the country's special needs and the development of high-tech industries.

  The "13th Five-Year" national key research and development plan has set up a key special project of "high-performance computing" to provide layout support in the development of high-performance computers, system software and applications.

Among them, the development of "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" is a major scientific research task carried out by key national organizations.

  On April 22, 2013, the People’s Government of Jiangsu Province formally proposed to build a one-billion-time supercomputing center in Wuxi City, which was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology; on March 5, 2014, the Ministry of Science and Technology agreed to "high-performance computer and application service environment ( The second phase)" major project was established; on December 31, 2015, the "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" supercomputer was developed.

  In the words of relevant experts, with the emergence of iconic achievements such as the "Shenwei·Taihuzhiguang" supercomputer and the "Shenwei 26010" processor, it has broken the long-standing situation that domestically-made supercomputer platforms have no "cores" available. A safe, independent and controllable domestic platform technology foundation.

  The reporter learned that the "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" supercomputer is composed of 40 computing cabinets and 8 network cabinets.

Each computing cabinet contains 4 super nodes composed of 32 computing plug-ins, each plug-in is composed of 4 computing node boards, and one computing node board contains two "Shenwei 26010" high-performance processors.

  "A cabinet has 1024 processors, and'Shenwei·Taihu Light' has a total of 40960 processors." Yang Guangwen said.

  It is worth mentioning that "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" is also my country's first supercomputer constructed entirely with domestic processors.

Up to now, it has won the global supercomputer competition four times in a row with a floating-point calculation speed of 930 million times per second.

Among them, in November 2016, "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" once again won the world supercomputing championship with a larger computing speed advantage. The high-performance computing application project based on this supercomputer won the highest award in the international high-performance computing application field— —The "Gordon Bell" Award has become a milestone achievement in the development of my country's high-performance computing applications.

  "It is the pursuit and dream of our supercomputers to make software and applications based on autonomous and controllable supercomputer systems reach the international peak and strengthen domestic software." said Gan Lin, director of the National Supercomputing Wuxi Center R&D Center.

  Compete with the application level, let the big machine play a big role

  "Supercomputers were born to solve major problems in engineering and science." Fu Haohuan, deputy director of the National Supercomputing Wuxi Center, said that measuring the value of supercomputers depends not only on the speed of operation, but also on the level of application.

  "Competing whose supercomputer'runs' faster, this kind of competition was once held between China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries. However, now everyone compares what field the supercomputer can be used in, which has become The key point of competition nowadays." Yang Guangwen said.

  So, how to make big machines exert great power?

  In Yang Guangwen's view, the main responsibility of the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi is operation and maintenance, and the purpose of operation and maintenance is to make good use of this supercomputer.

  In the past 7 years, the scientific research team of the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi has lived up to expectations, combining theory with practice, and through extensive cross-disciplinary and cross-unit cooperation, so that parallel applications based on the "Shenwei·Taihu Light" system have been produced frequently.

Among them, a series of domestic application software related to climate simulation, earthquake simulation, industrial simulation, biomedicine and other fields developed by the "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake" supercomputer, with its super computing power of 1 billion billion times per second, has helped my country Basic research and engineering innovation have demonstrated the huge potential of the combination of domestic supercomputer hardware and software.

  On November 17, 2017, at the Global Supercomputing Conference in Denver, USA, the "Non-Linear Earthquake Simulation" completed by the Chinese scientific research team won the "Gordon Bell" award again.

Using the powerful computing power of "Shenwei·Light of Taihu Lake", the team successfully designed a highly scalable nonlinear seismic simulation tool.

This tool realized for the first time the high-resolution and accurate simulation of the Tangshan earthquake, allowing scientists to better understand the impact of the Tangshan earthquake, and has important reference significance for future earthquake prevention and prediction.

  In addition, Yang Guangwen said that supercomputers can also serve deep learning in the field of artificial intelligence.

"Now, many IT company technical leaders find us, mainly because we have developed a large number of parallel software based on deep learning algorithms, and developed a deep learning platform swCaffe. At present, we have developed deep learning applications based on supercomputers. Including Go, speech recognition, medical image recognition, remote sensing image classification, seismic aftershock feature recognition, large-scale cryo-electron microscopy, high-precision reconstruction of biological macromolecular models, etc." Yang Guangwen said.

  Yang Guangwen told reporters that the current “Shenwei·Taihuzhiguang” system of the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi is operating stably, the number of users is increasing, the machine utilization rate has exceeded 50%, and more than 200 million-core large-scale problems have been solved, involving aviation Key fields such as aerospace, advanced manufacturing, biomedicine, new materials, and new energy have effectively supported national scientific research and industrial innovation.

  These important application results have aroused great repercussions at home and abroad, which proves that "Shenwei·Taihu Light" can support challenging applications with strategic needs, and demonstrates the international status and important influence of China's supercomputers to the world.

  It is worth mentioning that in recent years, the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi has attached great importance to the introduction and cultivation of talents.

At present, the center has more than 30 specially-appointed experts at home and abroad, whose majors involve computer software and hardware development, meteorology and climate, biological genes, marine physics, mechanics, big data, cloud computing, etc.

In addition, the center also undertakes the task of cultivating doctoral and master students in Tsinghua University every year.

  Yang Guangwen said that in the future, my country’s scientific research team will continue to focus on improving the country’s scientific and technological innovation capabilities, based on the “Shenwei·Taihuzhiguang” supercomputer, to further solve major scientific issues in the fields of climate, environment, life, materials and manufacturing, and to study high performance. The core technology of computing, the improvement of the application level of high-performance computing, and the training of high-performance computing talents provide strong support for my country's basic research and industrial development.