US Government Cancels Intel’s Chip Export License to China

Published By : 13 Apr 2015 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

Fearing that China might be using its supercomputer Tianhe-2 for nuclear research, the US government cancelled the export of thousands of chips required for updating the supercomputer. Chipmaker Intel was supposed to sell its Xeon chips which could have boosted the number-crunching abilities of the Chinese supercomputer. Tianhe-2 has been termed as the world’s most powerful supercomputer for the last 18 months, by Top 500, an organization that monitors supercomputers. The supercomputer requires 80,000 Xeon chips to reach a huge computational capacity of more than 33 petaflops. Petaflop is a unit to define one quadrillion calculations per second. The upgrade largely depends on the chips made by Intel and the updating process would have increased the computational capacity of the supercomputer by more than 110 pentaflops.

While the export license of Intel was cancelled by the US, the chipmaker signed a deal of USD 200 million with the US government to build a supercomputer at one of its laboratories located in Illinois. Once upgraded, the supercomputer Aurora will perform with a capacity of 180 petaflops. The US Department of Commerce mentioned in a notice that Tianhe-2 along with three other supercomputers are being implemented for nuclear explosive activities and under the US regulations,  this comes under the section of "design, development or fabrication" of nuclear weapons”.

Intel clarified that their export license to China was rejected by the US government and they complied with the US law. China has initiated efforts for domestic manufacturing of the chips to complete updating its supercomputer. 
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