Feeds

The9 exposed as China's supercomputing powerhouse

The ninth mode of art runs on HP clusters

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Exclusive For more than six months, a list ranking the top supercomputers in China has been floating around, but no one has managed to solve its riddle.

The list begins much like any other supercomputer ranking. IBM built the top system, which is a cluster of servers running on Xeon chips from Intel. An oil company - China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. - owns the machine. The next system, also built by IBM, belongs to the China Meteorological Administration. The third machine, a cluster made by Dawning, sits at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center, and the fourth system again belongs to the China Meteorological Administration. So, that's oil and gas exploration, some weather modeling and serious science work. Very standard stuff in the so-called high performance computing market.

The systems ranked 5-10, however, prove more curious. These identical 1950-core clusters built by HP belong to "Gaming Company."

It's almost a sign of disrespect to have such a prominent position on a list of top supercomputers and remain shrouded in anonymity. No self-congratulating, red-blooded US company would dare turn down the marketing opportunity presented by owning six of the country's fastest computers. What, after all, is the point of even having lists if comparisons against rivals and bragging can't occur from time-to-time?

But try as it might to remain secret, the true identity of "Gaming Company" has been discovered by The Register. Our sources in China have revealed that the these six systems belong to The9 - a famous video game distributor and the Chinese proprietor of World of Warcraft.

The9 owns at least 12 of the Top 100 machines in China and may have up to 16 systems on the list. (We've not been able to confirm four of the anonymous machines, although they're all also made by HP and belong to an anonymous gaming company. And, despite repeated attempts, The9 has declined to return our requests for comment.)

Taking just the 12 machines, The9 has at least 18,032 cores of processing power - a mix of Xeons, Opterons and even Itaniums - dedicated to distributing games throughout mainland China.

It's true enough that China's supercomputer list reflects a nation that's still in the early stages of building out its computing infrastructure. Only 12 of the top Chinese systems rank among the 500 fastest machines on the planet, according to the most recent Top500 supercomputer list. Meanwhile, the US claims 257 of the top machines, the UK 53, Germany 46 and France 34.

In addition, the Chinese list is filled with systems from mainstream industries such as oil and gas, entertainment and telecommunications. By contrast, the top Western machines tend to reside inside of government-funded laboratories and universities. (Part of this discrepancy may result from the fact that many foreign government bodies like to boast about their computing giants, while the PRC appears to keep many government systems hidden. In addition, Western companies tend not to bother with benchmarking their business clusters, while the Chinese seem eager to do so.)

Regardless of how you examine the trends affecting the lists of supercomputing machines, The9's story stands out as something rather remarkable. This one company aims more than 10 per cent of China's top computers at the singular task of sending out video games to the millions of local players.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
Intel teaches Oracle how to become the latest and greatest Xeon Whisperer
E7-8895 v2 chips are best of the bunch, and with firmware-unlocked speed control
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.