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China Tightens Control on Exports of Supercomputers, Drones

China puts export license restrictions on sales of its supercomputer and drone technologies overseas

2 min read
China Tightens Control on Exports of Supercomputers, Drones
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

China has begun putting new limits on the overseas sales of its most powerful supercomputers and drones. The move to limit some of the more advanced Chinese technologies echoes U.S. restrictions on similar technology exports.

Chinese companies seeking to export certain advanced supercomputers or drones will need to apply for export licenses, according to a 31 July announcement by China’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs. For supercomputers, that means anything more powerful than 8 teraflops (8 trillion floating-point operations per second), The Wall Street Journal reports. China currently has the world’s most powerful supercomputer, called Tianhe-2, at 33 petaflops (33 quadrillion floating-point operations per second.)

The new Chinese rules likely represent an effort to play up China’s technology strengths, said Andrei Chang, the Hong Kong-based editor of Kanwa Defense, an online publication about military affairs, in a Wall Street Journal interview. But they may also represent a reaction to the U.S. government blacklisting several Chinese supercomputing centers associated with Tianhe-2 because of concerns about their involvement in nuclear weapons development.

Both China and the U.S. are leaders in building ever-faster supercomputers. But the U.S. currently lags behind China and Japan in terms of plans to build the first exascale supercomputers. The two Asian nations hope to get there by 2020. On 29 July, President Obama signed an executive order focused on high-performance computing that included the goal of speeding up delivery of the first U.S. exascale supercomputer, which experts don’t expect until 2023.

The new Chinese export license restrictions also cover homegrown drones that can fly for more than an hour, along with drones that can stabilize themselves in the midst of strong winds and fly for more than half an hour. That probably won’t affect the business of the Chinese company DJI, which produces the popular Phantom line of commercial drones and currently ranks as the world’s largest commercial drone manufacturer. But it could potentially limit future exports as off-the-shelf drones become more powerful.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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