Jeff Nichols, associate lab director in charge of scientific computing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, visited China for the first time earlier this month and spoke at an Nvidia-sponsored conference in Beijing.
The folks at the Beijng conference included representatives from the top scientific computing labs, including those housing the No. 1 (Japan’s K Computer) and No. 2 (China’s Tianhe-1A system) on the latest list of the world’s Top500 supercomputers. Nichols visited the nearby lab housing the Tianhe-1A computer as part of the conference, where he spoke about the scientific computing at ORNL — including the transformation of the No. 3-ranked Jaguar.
Nichols said it’s going to be difficult for the United States to gain or reclaim world leadership in supercomputing.
China is a particularly formidable competitor, he said. "They’ve got a lot of money. They can invest tons of money in computers. They’re going to be hard to compete with. I think we have a better handle on applications and scalability and issues surrounding scalability, especially these unique heterogeneous nodes . . . But they can afford to build and buy these machines a lot faster than we are.