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Taiwan Neglects Supercomputing

The chip leader’s fastest machine has slipped off the list of the 500 most powerful supercomputers

3 min read
Taiwan Neglects Supercomputing
Windrider Aground: Taiwan’smost powerful computer has fallen off the Top 500 list.
Photo: NCHC

A quick glance at the new ranking of top supercomputers reveals a surprising showing by one of the world’s technological powerhouses: Taiwan does not possess a single machine powerful enough to make the Top500.org list. While there are many nations that don’t make the list, Taiwan is peculiar in that it has such an outsized grip on the computer chip industry. What’s more, its political rival, China, not only has the world’s top machine, it now has more ranking supercomputers than any nation except the United States.

It has been a long decline. Taiwan’s most powerful supercomputer, the Advanced Large-scale Parallel Super­cluster, also known as ALPS or Windrider, ranked 42nd in June 2011, shortly after its launch.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
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Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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