The revelation China has built and is already operating the world’s fastest supercomputer, with a huge lead, isn’t likely to be noticed by many in the mainstream. And even if it is, it’s not that big of a story, since super computers tend to leap one another every year or so. Though admittedly, this one will reign supreme for a while.
No, what’s really interesting, or rather alarming is the details beneath the story. It’s the fact that Tianhe-2 is built using mostly Chinese parts and even runs a Chinese custom Linux version. This is a demonstration of China’s growing technological prowess. They’re not longer simply manufacturing for foreign companies, now they’re developing proprietary tech that competes with and may someday or may already surpass the rest.
When new technologies that drive innovation are no longer the purview of the western societies, how will the world react? China is already a leading economy and is demonstrating it’s global reach. But the west has always clung to our capability to innovate and develop the best technologies. What happens when that’s no longer the case?
To me, that’s the real heart of this story. Not that China’s government funded the biggest and fastest super computer – but that China has been investing in its future and may have just demonstrated they’re ready to take the global lead in technological development.