Chinese Supercomputer Likely to Prompt Unease in U.S.

A newly built supercomputer in China appears poised to take the world performance lead, another sign of the country’s growing technological prowess that is likely to set off alarms about U.S. competitiveness and national security.

The system was designed by China’s National University of Defense Technology and is housed at the National Supercomputing Center in the city of Tianjin. It is part of a new breed that exploits graphics chips more commonly used in playing videogames–supplied by Nvidia Corp.–as well as standard microprocessors from Intel Corp.

Supercomputers are massive machines that help tackle the toughest scientific problems, including simulating commercial products like new drugs as well as defense-related applications such as weapons design and breaking codes. The field has long been led by U.S. technology companies and national laboratories, which operate systems that have consistently topped lists of the fastest machines in the world.

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