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Supercomputing China United States Technology

Russia, Europe Seek Divorce From U.S. Tech Vendors 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-the-kids dept.
dcblogs writes "The Russians are building a 10-petaflop supercomputer as part of a goal to build an exascale system by 2018-20, in the same timeframe as the US. The Russians, as well as Europe and China, want to reduce reliance on U.S. tech vendors and believe that exascale system development will lead to breakthroughs that could seed new tech industries. 'Exascale computing is a challenge, and indeed an opportunity for Europe to become a global HPC leader,' said Leonardo Flores Anover, who is the European Commission's project officer for the European Exascale Software Initiative. 'The goal is to foster the development of a European industrial capability,' he said. Think what Europe accomplished with Airbus. For Russia: 'You can expect to see Russia holding its own in the exascale race with little or no dependence on foreign manufacturers,' said Mike Bernhardt, who writes The Exascale Report. For now, Russia is relying on Intel and Nvidia."
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Russia, Europe Seek Divorce From U.S. Tech Vendors

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  • By 2018 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:04PM (#38486032) Homepage Journal

    We'll probably have Petaflop computers on our desks, if not in our laps. Apparently so we can manage the bloat of operating systems (which will no longer be popping up balloons, but nagging you with voice and expecting voice back) and gigabyte webpages, which tell you nothing you can't see now, but are built layer upon layer of cruft.

    • Re:By 2018 (Score:4, Funny)

      by cultiv8 (1660093) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:15PM (#38486084) Homepage
      I disagree. By 2018 we'll all be in the cloud and not need to worry about petaflops and extraflops and all of those other things that make computing so darn hard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      By 2018 every company in the US is so busy suing other company's about complete trivial software patents, that innovation has crashed and stopped about 5 years before. Nobody can develop anything any more, because the tiniest things are patented and development is becoming too expensive. The only ones making money around then are the lawyers. This situation is developing at this moment already, and is not going to stop.

      And in the mean time the rest of the world is going forward...

    • by gtall (79522)

      The day I need to communicate with my desktop using voice is the day I reprogram it with my chainsaw.

  • by stox (131684) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:06PM (#38486042) Homepage

    we once more have a broad set of different processors and architectures to choose from. Competition will stimulate more creative designs and solutions.

    • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @09:43PM (#38486176) Journal
      This is a symptom of the flawed patent system in America. It has lead to a lack of competition. Now instead of many companies driving technological innovation, there are a small number of big companies and patent trolls intent on holding it up for ransom. So far the resistance to the same sort of patent death spiral in Europe gives them a chance to make this attempt they are making work. But if the megacorp's and patent troll's political bribes (sorry I meant to say lobbying) work over there, they will be screwed too. So here's to Europe, may she reign supreme in technology. Too bad the ship seems to be sinking over here.
    • we once more have a broad set of different processors and architectures to choose from. Competition will stimulate more creative designs and solutions.

      We did! At one point, we had, aside from the Pentiums (and x86 derivatives from AMD, Cyrix & Centaur) RISC processors like MIPS, SPARC, POWER, Alpha, PA-RISC, Intergraph's Clipper, and maybe more.

      Thanks to all the shakedowns in the 2000s, we're now reduced to just the x64, POWER and MIPS. ARM occupies the portable space, but not much above that. Thanks to that hype known as Itanium, Alpha & PA-RISC went under. Also, Microsoft neglecting the RISC versions of NT contributed to the demise of Alp

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Thanks to that hype known as Itanium, Alpha & PA-RISC went under.

        No, it was because Intel bought out Alpha and killed it outright. It wasn't hype, it was a strategic decision by corporate executives. Same with PA-RISC; HP wanted to jump on the Itanic bandwagon with Intel (Itanic was co-developed by HP and Intel, it wasn't an Intel-only project), so they killed PA-RISC and put their engineers to work on Itanic.

        Anyway, coming to Russia, if they want a processor not subject to any US laws, their choices

    • by ultranova (717540)

      we once more have a broad set of different processors and architectures to choose from. Competition will stimulate more creative designs and solutions.

      Just as long as they're all x86-32/64 compatible. I, for one, would hate a situation where I'm forced to choose between programs A or B not working.

  • "[Technology segment] is a challenge, and indeed an opportunity for Europe to become a global [segment] leader", said [person], who is the European Commission's project officer for [some thing].

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:05PM (#38486250) Homepage

      Reminds me of my favorite generic speech template:

      "I wish to speak to you all on the important subject of _____. As you all know, much has been done in this area, but there are still a great many things left to do. But knowing this is not enough, it will take real effort and dedication. What we need now is progress. I need progress, I request progress, I demand progress! I am certain, though, that with focus and teamwork, we can continue to make the changes that will allow for a better future. Thank you all for your time."

      • Wish I had mod-points for you, kind sir!

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          I wish to speak to you all on the important subject of mod-points. As you all know, much has been done in this area, but there are still a great many things left to do. But knowing this is not enough, it will take real effort and dedication. What we need now is progress. I need progress, I request progress, I demand progress! I am certain, though, that with focus and teamwork, we can continue to make the changes that will allow for a better future. Thank you all for your time.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @10:17PM (#38486286)

    Russia doesn't have the silicon crystal production facilities, they'll be stuck using the same European, American and Japanese lithography tools everyone else does, no fabs, no economies of scales for production like Samsung, Intel, AMD, Toshiba, etc have.

    • by ChatHuant (801522) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @11:58PM (#38486618)

      Russia doesn't have the silicon crystal production facilities

       
      If Russia decides some products, like silicon wafers for example, are strategically important and American or other external producers can not be trusted (for security, military or simply business reasons), price becomes a secondary consideration and economies of scale will not matter. Russia can afford to buy the most up to date tools, or they can build their own (maybe not as cheap as others, but that, as I said, wouldn't matter). And I think the Russian leadership still has the courage and political capability to start and finance long term strategic research and development programs, which, unfortunately, the USA leadership seems to have lost lately.

      • by temcat (873475) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @04:50AM (#38487396)

        They have the capability to finance every kind of shit. They just don't have the other, crucial capability - to have the shit actually done. There's no problem with money, it's just that it's either wasted completely or ends up in the pockets of some selected friends of gov't beaurocrats.

        • I wouldn't sell Russia short. Unlike the USA, they even managed to hold on to manned space travel when their economy imploded.

          We are riding bitch with Ivan son.

          • by temcat (873475)

            What I meant is not Russia as such, but the current Russian leadership which ChatHuant had referred to.

            I live in Russia and personally couldn't care less who is winning the space race. But the manned space travel is one thing they haven't managed to completely fuck up yet, which I believe is largely because of international commitments. If it were purely internal affair, I think that the situation would be much more sad.

    • Russia doesn't have any microchip factories or tools to design it (the foreign ones are used). But at least it has means for designing and producing circuit boards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TopoR), so it's not hopeless.

  • Way back in the beginning you could see them as single computers but nowadays a supercomputer looks more like a local network of computers or a local cloud/cluster. Where does the computer start and stop?

    Science centers certainly need the computing power but I can't see how relevant it is to think of these specialized clusters as a single computer or how one rates against another. These clusters are constantly being upgraded and expanded. The interconnects and topology is the only interesting thing but you

    • by hitmark (640295)

      If one look at how certain buses and such are set up, the distinction between computer and network becomes very blurred. The largest distinction will be the latency between a local and remote component.

  • But that got harder when we shrunk our processes. That had the result of forcing them to learn how to design their own chips, thereby boosting their economy.

    My cousin speaks fluent Russian. There is no room to stand let alone sit in his apartment because of all the giant stacks of books. I know enough Russian that I could tell what the books were about. All of them were advanced physics and electrical engineering texts.

    The Russians are no fools. Their educational system is excellent. It had to be under the soviets to have any hope of them surviving the cold war.

    • by slew (2918) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @01:31AM (#38486912)

      One of the big things that improves the speed of innovation is the ability to fail. This is still one of the big problems that needs to be conquered. You need lots of groups trying different avenues to ferret out the key innovations that push the state of the art forward. One of the problems with the command-style-economies is that although they could build up industries efficiently, they are simultaneously captive to those industries by continued government funding resuting in economic inefficiency (in the best case), or a military/industrial complex (in the worst case). From what I can tell, basically you need lots of serial entrepenuers, copy-cat followers and venture capital to push tech forward.

      Not to say that the USA has this problem licked (see the defense spending culture or wall street as examples), but there are no clear signs yet that china, europe or russia has a sustainable approach to this problem that the USA seems to have. If they get better at figuring out how to fund innovation and defund obsolete industries, they will probably have both the ingredients needed to create a sustainable tech revolution that could wean itself from the USA tech industry.

      From what it appears, right now china and europe are in focus-on-money mode trying to attract multi-national corporate investment which gets lots of progress quickly, but doesn't seem that sustainable as the government is still picking the winners and losers (e.g. who gets the tax breaks and who gets the operating licences). I honestly don't follow the situation in russia very closely for tech, but my understand is that big investment is still mostly in traditional industries rather than tech (natural resource expliotation). If this is true, the result of this is a problem of not enough native customers for native tech companies (another problem for sustainable growth).

      Not to say they won't get there, but at least it seems to me that the evidence isn't there that they are on the cusp of anything... Remember, the leaders/founders of Intel and Nvidia didn't just graduate from school and start billion dollar companies. They worked for other multi-million dollar companies before starting those companies. And not all of those people that worked for those same multi-million dollar companies and left to start companies went on to found billion dollar companies either. And it wasn't just about Intel and Nvidia either, if Applied Materials didn't exist, you probably wouldn't have Intel fabs (or TSMC fabs) and so-on and so-forth. A whole ecosystem of companies need to exist. And for each of them, there needed to be some losers for there to be winners and some people willing to take a chance to lose some money to make some money.

      Education was only 1/2 the problem. Ironically, education is perhaps the easiest 1/2 to solve (in the USA, apparently we just import people to educate and to do the education).

    • by Issarlk (1429361)
      Clearly the russians are very good. There was a robotic competitions my school participated in, some simple path following on a checkerboard. The russians with their robot - seemingly assembled with 20 year old components - left everyone else in the dust. They have very good scientists and engineer.
      But the question for me is: do they date back from USSR, and does current Russia manage to educate more of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a scientific user of large HPC machines like Franklin, Hopper, HECToR etc., this race for exascale machines seems like the tail wagging the dog. There are currently very very few codes which can actually use an exascale supercomputer, due to the extreme parallelism needed. If you have to make use of several hundred thousand cores, anything beyond embarrassingly parallel montecarlo problems have problems moving data around. Something like Intel's Knight's Corner chip might help OpenMP-MPI hybrid codes, bu

    • by JanneM (7445) on Sunday December 25, 2011 @08:05AM (#38487746) Homepage

      Really large tightly coupled clusters are usually offered in a time-sharing arrangement. One Exa-scale system could normally support hundreds to thousands of concurrent users, each with a temporary slice of the machine. Truly large-scale jobs would be run only at specific times.

      At that point you can offer the facility to a much wider range of users, and be much less selective about what kind of jobs are worthy of getting time on the machine. That easy availability is arguably more important than the peak performance, but is of course not headline-grabbing in the same way.

  • moved much of their knowledge to China, the US gov. should divorce from US tech vendors as well. It is time to realize that the international companies like IBM, GE, Ford, Exon, GM, etc have no interest in US or even Western nations. Instead, they chase the almight dollar, or these days, the yuan.

    American gov. needs to start funding local companies that develops and KEEPS tech here.

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