China's Legend unveils supercomputer

China's Legend Group Ltd. has unveiled its first supercomputer, a machine that ranks as one of the top 25 most powerful computers in the world, according to specifications issued by the company on Friday.

The machine, called Legend Deepcomp 1800, was developed by a team of 60 engineers at the Beijing-based company, which is better known as one of China's leading manufacturers of desktop and notebook computer systems. It is based around 526 Intel Corp. Xeon processors and has 272G bytes of RAM and a hard disk capacity of 6T bytes, said Legend.

The computer will be installed this month at the Academy of Mathematics and System Sciences at the China Academy of Sciences in Beijing where it will be used tasks including fluid dynamics computation, earthquake information control, oil reservoir simulation, climatic modeling and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) computation, said Legend.

The machine has a performance of 1,067G flops (floating point operations per second), according to Legend. That would give it a ranking as the 24th most powerful supercomputer in the world if it were included in the most recent version of the Top 500 List, a widely recognized ranking of supercomputing power around the world ( ).

It would also be the only ranking for a Chinese-made supercomputer in the list, which is dominated by U.S. and Japanese computer makers. According to the ranking, the current most powerful computer in China is a Hewlett-Packard Co. manufactured machine used by Beijing Social Insurance that has a performance of 245G Flops and ranks 192nd in the list.

At present, the U.S. government restricts the export of powerful supercomputers to China and other so-called "tier-3" nations like Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan. The current restrictions require companies wishing to export computers above 190G tops (theoretical operations per second) to submit an application to do so with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The upper limit was increased in January this year from 85G tops in recognition, to the rapid rate in technological change, according to the U.S. Government. Single microprocessors with 25 times the speed of early 1990s supercomputers are now available by mail order, it said in a statement outlining reasons for the change.

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Martyn Williams

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