Website of China Newsweek: Dialogue with Wang Endong of Inspur, Supercomputer is Close to Us
Super computer has actually been "hiding" beside you. Such trivial affairs as weather forecast, how to explore automotive oil, how to handle haze and so on need to be supported by super computer. It makes our life become more convenient, and more intelligent.
An article titled Ten Forte Skills of Chinese was published on weekly of Russia Reported by, in which not only traditional inventions such as chinaware, firecracker, suspension bridge, etc. but also super computer that has reached the advanced level in the world were mentioned.
What is super computer (hereafter referred to as "supercomputer")? There may be quite a few Chinese who are not familiar with such "unique skill". Last week, the weekly viewed and emulated Asia Student Supercomputer Chanllenge of 2014 and visited "Tianhe-2", the fastest super computer in the world; it also listen to Wang Endong, the chilef scientist and CEO of Inspur, which is the pioneering enterprise in super computer field of China, stoytell development of domestic super computer career. Now he would like to share with all of us what he have learnt.
We Can not Live without Super Computer
Super computer is far from you? No! It has actually "hiding" beside you. "Such trivial affairs as weather forecast, how to explore automotive oil, how to handle haze and so on need to be supported by super computer. It makes our life become more convenient and more intelligent." said Wang Endong.
Currently, super computer has played an important role on more and more scientific research, economic and social problems. It is inseparable from assistance of super computer for global scientific research tasks such as nuclear fusion, clean energy, gene sequencing, study on cosmogenic origin, etc. and industrial problems such as automobile design, animation production, etc. and social problems such as haze, global climate and so forth.
"Super computer shall promote human to make greater achievements over next 20 years than that in the past 200 years. For any country, super computer is not a kind of input, but investment, whose development speed and level will become an important symbol of the comprehensive national power." Wang Endong indicated.
China is a Supercomputer Power in Hardware, but still Weak in Concurrent Software
As Russian media puts supercomputer as one of ten unique skills of China, it is recognition of supercomputer capability of China. Nevertheless, in the opinion of Wang Endong, we are currently a supercomputer power in hardware and there is still gap between hardware construction and application development.
In the aspect of hardware, China has independely developed "Tianhe-2", the fastest super computer in the world, which is developed jointly by National University of Defense Technology and Inspur Group. How fast on earth is "Tianhe-2"? If it runs for an hour, 1.3 billion people has to calculate with the calculator for 1,000 years! The supercomputer is enough to prove that China has reached the advanced level of the world in the aspect of supercomputer harware.
However, compared with rapid development of hardware, China is still weak in application field of supercomputer and over ninety percent of supercomputer softwares are dependent on the oversea countries. As a result, although China has a huge supercomputer system with powerful performance, large-scale concurrent software that matches with it is lacking,
"In fact, super computer is integrated with software and hardware like our daily computer. As for supercomputer, what is most important is not speed, but to make good use of speed." Wang Endong said, "western software is not necessarily appropriate for our super computer and they will not necessarily sell us sophisticated applications related to national defense and safety, which urge us to develop applications suitable for our own supercomputer."
It is Extremely Urgent to Train Supercomputer Talents
If Chinese supercomputer is considered as a domestic vehicle, we have a solid chassis by achievements in hardware construction. Next we shall grind the engine constantly to make the domestic vehicel run faster. The engine is supercomputer application and talent.
As the leader of the industry, Inspur Group thinks that it has responsibility to promote training of supercomputer talents and it has carried out a lot of practices.
First of all, Inspur has been commiting itself to research and development of basic products of supercomputer and creating a high-end technical team. Inspur's products have currently been applied to fields such as geological data analysis, national center for satellite application, gene sequenator of oil exploration and so forth.
Next, Inspur has built relationship with many colleges and universities in the hope of promoting cultivation of supercomputer talents in universities. During the process, Inspur finds that, not too many domestic universities put certain input to supercomputer and just a few curriculum related to supercomputer are opened. Students may have a certain theoretical study but little contact with actual application scenarios. Under such premise, Inspur has launched Asia Student Supercomputer Chanllenge to provide a good platform for students leaning supercomputer to put their super capability into practice, to understand actual application and to communicate with supercomputer talents of various countries.
"Triple Jump" of Asia Student Supercomputer Chanllenge
ASC, Asia Student Supercomputer Chanllenge has completed its "triple jump" from China to Asia and from Asia to the world in three years, with its influence increasing year by year. In ASC14 which just ended in Sun Yat-Sen University of Guangzhou, there were teams from 82 universities around five continents of the world applying for participation. The overall strength of participating teams is becoming more and more strong. In the compitition this year, three teams from Sun Yat-Sen University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Taiwan Tsinghua University has broken world record of HPL test.
In order to highlight "Chinese Characteristics", the host first made "Tianhe-2" the fastest supercomputer in the world developed independently by China as compitition platform and comprehensively applied supercomputer nodes developed independently by Inspur, which is the leading computing manufacturer with high performance. Meanwhile the chanllenge incorporated domestic application software of supercomputer to study oil exploration and marine climate.
During compitition for five months, candidates was not simply engaged in idle theorizing. They need to complete the whole supercomputer process such as building and performance optimizaiton of supercomputer system all by themselves. Each team shall not only be qualified for a designer, but also an engineer to fully understand every aspects involved in supercomputer. For 2 teams who achieved best scores in the preliminary round, they shall take part in extreme chanllenge of expansibility from mononuclear to nearly 200 thousand nuclear on large-scale supercomputer system with up to 1,024 nodes.
After a fierce compitition, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore eventually won the first place and second place of the final respectively. Participating students said that they contacted, leant and mastered a large quantity of knowledge and experience outside the classroom through the compitition.
Besides, students' intelligent achievements during the chanllenge will also accelerate innovation and development of application. For instance, in the compittion last year, the participating team made substantial specific optimization to BSDE option pricing model from the aspect of underlying algorithm to realize performance upgrading for 60 thousand times, which promoted improvement of the software application.
Wang Endong also indicates that ASC is meanwhile a bridge to serve as connection for supercomputer talents of employers and universities. Past experiences show that students who participate in supercomputer chanllenge will be invited and employed by various research institutions and large enterprises before graduation. (Reported by Chen Yanni on April 30, 2014)