China Aims for High-Tech Primacy

The New York Times looks at China’s efforts to become a leader in high-tech innovation:

China already has almost twice the number of Internet users as in the United States, and Dr. Wu, a computer scientist and director of the Chinese Educational and Research Network, points out that his nation is moving more quickly than any other in the world to deploy the new protocol.

IPv6 — Internet Protocol version 6 — offers advanced security and privacy options, but more important, many more I.P. addresses, whose supply on the present Internet (IPv4) is almost exhausted.

“China must move to IPv6,” Dr. Wu said. “In the U.S., some people don’t believe it’s urgent, but we believe it’s urgent.”

If the future of the Internet is already in China, is the future of computing there as well?

Many experts in the United States say it could very well be. Because of the ready availability of low-cost labor, China has already become the world’s dominant maker of computers and consumer electronics products. Now, these experts say, its booming economy and growing technological infrastructure may thrust it to the forefront of the next generation of computing.

The development of a supercomputer has been one of China’s major achievements in the high-tech field. But a recent article in Science Magazine argues that the architecture of the Sunway BlueLight supercomputer may have been adapted from technology developed by an American company:

The Chinese press holds up the new Sunway BlueLight supercomputer as a success of China’s indigenous innovation effort, which aims to jump-start the country’s transition from a manufacturing- to a knowledge-based economy by promoting domestic ownership of intellectual property rights for key technologies. Among the campaign’s targets are integrated circuits, high-performance processors, large airplanes, high-speed rail technology, and supercomputers. Sunway BlueLight’s central processing unit seems to fit the bill. But the true story is more complex. Experts say that the ShenWei CPU is based on an architecture created years ago by the U.S. company Digital Equipment Corp. and recently resurrected by a Chinese military institute.

December 9, 2011 12:31 AM
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