ChauJi DianNao (Chinese for Supercomputer)

China has the badass-iest computer in the world. Had the spot in 2010, lost it for a couple of years, and got it back in 2013. Now, in 2016 they took the number one spot again with the TaihuLight. That makes people nervous. I’m not sure why.

Technology is a wonderful thing. We use technology for everything from paying for a ride from strangers to killing virtual monsters. Each of us- I assume that if you’re reading this then you’re one of us, and not one of them– each of us has in our hands a phone with more computing power than all of NASA had in 1969. And they put people on the moon. “Lookit, Neil Armstrong!, on the moon!” Each of usin our hands- has the computing power to put someone into space. So what else would we do with it but to locate, capture, train, and battle pocket monsters, make them look like they are in the same location as the player, and kill them? “Lookit! It’s a Pikachu!”

The US used to be the place to be for supercomputers.Way back in 1969 the Cray Computer company made the CDC7600, the reigning champ at the time. The CDC7600 could deliver about ten megaflops. That’s even more megaflops than Warner Bros in a a year when they produced both Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad. Compare the CDC7600 performance to, say the A7 processor in Apple’s products at 1.8 gigaflops and you can see why we now have the gigaflop known as the AppleWatch.

But back when the US was putting men on the moon, China- for example- was in the middle of the Cultural Revolution. This was a period in which Mao Zedong, aka the Dongster, felt that he was losing control over the Communist Party. So he demonized “class enemies” – aka all the smart people- and put them into re-education- aka forced labor. He rallied the youth- aka the Red Guard- to locate, capture, train, and battle class monsters, make them look like they are in a lower social class as the Red Guard, and torture them. “Lookit! It’s a Pikachu!”

These people were “class enemies” mostly because they were educated intellectuals that universally rejected Mao’s policies because they would wreak economic and humanitarian havoc. The Cultural Revolution finally died in 1976, largely because the policies wreaked economic and humanitarian havoc.

But, take away the Cultural Revolution and thirty years later, voila! (Literally, the French word for Lookit!) you get the TaihuLight. In addition to being three times faster (125 petaflops ) than the previous fastest computer, it is also ranked as the third most energy-efficient supercomputer in the top 500. The Light version is even better than the regular Taihu because is has fewer calories.

They say they’re putting the TaihuLight to work on Earth-system modeling, weather forecasting, life sciences, and big data analytics- aka crunching metadata for the Chinese equivalent of the NSA. Personally, I hope they use it for more and better virtual fights with Pikachu.

Discussion Questions:

1) Is “badass-iest” a word? or should it be “bad assiest” instead?

2) What is humanitarian havoc? List examples.

3) Which has more calories, a TaihuLight or a Bud Lite? Explain. 





3 thoughts on “ChauJi DianNao (Chinese for Supercomputer)

  1. 1) Conjugate as badast, basti, badasti, bad asst, baddest ass.
    2) Got nothing. Suspect a translation of two or three specific characters with lack of cultural context. And it would *still* mean nothing with a correct translation. Conclusion? Intellectuals were targeted. You knew that.
    3) The supercomputer. It burns far more energy than one can of Bud Light. Which I would – and still will – refuse to drink as a beer. Offered as an energy drink, mixed with Gatorade? Are there witnesses? Good. Get this down. Fucking close to water mixed with Gatorade, if fresh, has bubbles.


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