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Critics Question China's Indigenous Innovation Effort

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Science  09 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6061, pp. 1336-1337
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6061.1336

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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.

  • * With reporting by Mara Hvistendahl in Beijing.