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China Extends Lead as Most Prolific Supercomputer Maker

来源:纽约时报    2018-06-26 01:47

        America is now home to the world’s speediest supercomputer. But the new list of the 500 swiftest machines underlines how much faster China is building them.        美国现在拥有全球最快的超级计算机。但新出炉的全球超级电脑500强榜单突显出中国建造超级计算机的速度远超美国。
        The list, published Monday, shows the Chinese companies and government pulling away as the most prolific producer of supercomputers, with 206 of the top 500. American corporations and the United States government designed and made 124 of the supercomputers on the list.        周一发布的榜单显示,中国企业和政府制造的超级计算机在500强榜单中占206台,逐渐成为最高产的超级计算机制造者。上榜的超级计算机中124台由美国企业和政府设计与制造。
        For years, the United States dominated the supercomputer market. But two years ago, China pulled even on the Top 500 list. China moved decisively ahead last fall and extended the gap in the latest tally.        美国多年主导超级计算机市场。但两年前,中国在500强榜单中追平美国。中国去年秋天果断继续推进,在最新榜单中扩大了与美国的差距。
        Making the most powerful supercomputers is regarded as one measure of a nation’s technical prowess, even if they are a rarefied niche of technology. Countries and companies have increasingly deployed the machines in a wider range of tasks in fields including medicine, new materials and energy technology.        制造最强大的超级计算机被视为衡量一国技术实力的一个标准,尽管它们是一种少见的小众技术。国家和企业越来越多地在医药、新材料和能源技术等领域的广泛任务中部署超级计算机。
        Supercomputing is one step in China’s rapid rise in technology, stirring concerns in America about the country’s grand plan and tactics — and the potential economic and geopolitical implications of those advancements.        超级计算是中国在技术领域迅速崛起的步骤之一,引发了美国对中国的宏伟计划和策略——以及这些进步的潜在经济和地缘政治影响的担忧。
        In an assessment last fall, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan congressional advisory group, pointed to supercomputing as part of China’s “ambitious whole-of-government plan to achieve dominance in advanced technology.”        在去年秋天的一次评估中,国会的两党咨询机构美中经济安全审查委员会(United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission)指出,超级计算是中国“政府齐心协力,实现主导先进技术的宏伟计划”的一部分。
        China began its supercomputing push in earnest a decade ago. Initially, it absorbed foreign technology, and then steadily developed its own.        中国真正开始发展超级计算是十年前。最初吸收外国技术,然后逐步发展自己的技术。
        “China was slow to make that work, but it’s working now,” said Richard Suttmeier, an expert in Chinese science policy at the University of Oregon.        “中国的起步很慢,但现在在稳步推进,”俄勒冈大学(University of Oregon)研究中国科学政策的专家理查德·萨特迈耶(Richard Suttmeier)说。
        The high-performance computing program, policy experts say, offers a blueprint for the multibillion-dollar efforts China has recently begun in fields like artificial intelligence and quantum computing — the next frontiers of technology, where economic advantages will be won or lost.        政策专家称,高性能计算项目为中国最近在人工智能和量子计算等关乎赢得或失去经济优势的下一代技术领域开始的行动提供了蓝图。相关行动涉及的资金投入以十亿美元计。
        Supercomputer technology has occasionally been a trade issue between the United States and China. In 2015, for example, Washington denied Intel a license to sell its microprocessor chips to four supercomputer labs in China, saying the centers worked on technology for the Chinese military.        超级计算机技术偶尔会成为美国与中国之间的贸易问题。比如2015年,华盛顿拒绝向英特尔颁发许可证,致使其无法向中国的四个超级计算机实验室出售微处理器芯片。华盛顿称这四家超级计算机中心是在为中国军方研发技术。
        The export ban, supercomputer experts say, served to prod the Chinese to accelerate their development efforts.        超级计算机专家称,这项出口禁令促使中国加快了自己的发展速度。
        “The lesson the Chinese took away was that you can’t rely on the United States,” said Jack Dongarra, a supercomputer expert at the University of Tennessee and co-creator of the Top 500 list of the fastest machines. “They’re trying to replace all Western technology with all Chinese-made.”        “中国吸取的教训是,不能依靠美国,”田纳西大学(University of Tennessee)的超级计算机专家、超级计算机500强榜单的联合制定者杰克·唐加拉(Jack Dongarra)说。“他们正在尝试用中国自己的技术取代所有西方技术。”
        Supercomputers were once found almost entirely in national laboratories, and used for government projects like simulating nuclear explosions and modeling weather patterns. But more than half of the 500 fastest are now toiling for corporations.        超级计算机一度几乎全部位于国家实验室里,用于模拟核爆和天气模式建模等政府项目。但现在,全世界最快的500台超级计算机中超过一半正服务于企业。
        The global supercomputer market is expected to double from 2017 to 2022, to more than $9.5 billion, according to an estimate from Hyperion Research. The research firm defines supercomputers as machines that cost more than $500,000 each.        据研究公司Hyperion Research预计,从2017年到2022年,全球超级计算机市场将翻一番,增至逾95亿美元(约合590亿元人民币)。该公司将超级计算机定义为每台成本超过50万美元的计算机。
        Three Chinese companies are among the top five makers of the 500 fastest supercomputers. Lenovo is first, Inspur is third, and Sugon is fifth. Two American companies are second and fourth, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Cray.        在500强榜单中排名前五的制造商中,中国公司占三家。联想第一、浪潮第三、中科曙光第五。慧与(Hewlett-Packard Enterprise)和克雷(Cray)这两家美国公司分列第二和第四。
        The new list confirmed that the current fastest machine resides in the United States. This month, the Department of Energy announced that its new supercomputer, called Summit, had achieved speeds well ahead of the previous leader, the Sunway TaihuLight at a Chinese supercomputing center in Wuxi. Summit, built by IBM in a partnership with Nvidia, is at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.        新榜单证实,目前最快的超级计算机在美国。本月,美国能源部(Department of Energy)宣布其新建成的超级计算机Summit实现的计算速度,远超上一台全球最快的超级计算机,即中国无锡一个超级计算中心的神威·太湖之光。Summit由IBM和Nvidia联合建造,现在田纳西州的橡树岭国家实验室。
        Depei Qian, a top supercomputer researcher in China, marvels at the progress his nation has made in the past decade — “beyond our expectations,” he said.        中国顶级的超级计算机研究人员钱德沛对中国过去十年取得的进展惊叹不已。“超出了我们的预期,”他说。
        A point of particular pride: The Sunway TaihuLight machine uses homegrown microprocessors. “That used to be a weakness,” said Mr. Qian, a computer science professor at both Sun Yat-sen University and Beihang University.        特别值得骄傲的一点是,神威·太湖之光使用的是国产微处理器。“过去这是一个弱势,”同时在中山大学和北京航空航天大学任教的计算机科学教授钱德沛说。
        But while China has made impressive strides, Mr. Qian said the country still lagged in certain advanced hardware technologies and, especially, in software. “Software is a tough issue for us,” he said. “That will take longer.”        尽管中国取得了惊人的进步,但钱德沛说,在某些先进的硬件技术,尤其是软件方面,中国依然落后。“软件对我们来说是个棘手的问题,”他说。“需要的时间更长。”
        Software is a challenge for supercomputing engineers in general. Supercomputers are increasingly being programmed to process vast amounts of data with artificial intelligence software. So data-handling speeds in software applications often become more important than raw calculating speed, which has been the traditional yardstick of supercomputer performance.        总的来说,软件是超级计算工程师面临的一个挑战。超级计算机越来越被设计成利用人工智能软件处理海量数据。因此,软件应用程序的数据处理速度,往往比原始计算速度更重要。后者是超级计算机性能的传统衡量标准。
        The 500 list is based on the machines’ speed of mathematical calculation. But another benchmark — codeveloped by Mr. Dongarra of the University of Tennessee — measures data-handling speed in applications. Summit tops that list as well, while the Sunway machine ranks sixth.        500强榜单是根据超级计算机的数学计算速度制定的。但由田纳西大学的唐加拉参与制定的另一项基准,衡量的是应用程序的数据处理速度。在那份榜单中,Summit也名列榜首,神威·太湖之光位列第六。
        But China is also catching up in software development, supercomputer experts said. “The flagship centers in China today are surprisingly similar to ours,” said Rick Stevens, an associate director of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.        但超级计算机专家表示,中国在软件研发方面也在迎头赶上。“如今中国的重点中心与我们的惊人地相似,”伊利诺伊州阿贡国家实验室(Argonne National Laboratory)副主任里克·史蒂文斯(Rick Stevens)说。
        China’s overarching policy, Mr. Stevens said, is “to play the long game in technology, and supercomputers are just one part of that.”        斯蒂文斯说,中国总的政策是“在技术领域打持久战,超级计算机只是其中的一部分”。

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