Nvidia’s new Jetson TX2 is the credit card-sized AI brain of the future - March 08, 2017

Components manufactures are always looking to push the boundaries of what silicon can do, and to that end Nvidia is back with a pocket-sized super computer of sorts in the Jetson TX2.

Squeezed into the size of a credit card, the Jetson TX2 platform will support artificial intelligence (AI) computing in everything from factory robots to commercial drones to smart video cameras scattered around cities. TX2 takes AI computing up a notch by powering smarter machines in a smaller package, one that measures only 50mm x 87mm (2in x 3.4in).

Jetson TX2 is proceeded by the Jetson TX1 and TK1, and Nvidia claims it offers twice as much performance and efficiency over the TX1. In that state, the Jetson TX2 draws less than 7.5 watts of power.

The system is sort-of like an Arduino on steroids, with functions that include voice and facial recognition, navigation and object detection. Partners for Nvidia's new Jetson include Cisco, Live Planet, MIT, Toyota and Toshiba.

At a launch event in San Fransisco, Nvdia demonstrated how Jetson TX2 recognizes other cars in the road, including in rainy conditions.

Nvidia has been a long-time proponent of self-driving cars and other AI systems, and Jetson TX2 seems to be another step in its mission to support hyper-intelligent machines that perform critical functions, now and into the not-so-distant future.

Google's self-driving car considered "Legal Driver"

Google's self-driving car system could soon be given the same legal definition as a human driver, paving the way for vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) - which sets rules and regulations on America's roads - shared its thoughts in a letter to Google made public this week.

Until now, any car without a human driver would not be considered roadworthy. However, in light of technological advancements, the NHTSA has changed its perspective. "If no human occupant of the vehicle can actually drive the vehicle, it is more reasonable to identify the driver as whatever (as opposed to whoever) is doing the driving," it said. "In this instance, an item of motor vehicle equipment, the Self-Driving System, is actually driving the vehicle."

It means Google's self-driving pod, which has no typical in-car controls, is one crucial step closer to being allowed on public roads. With the NHTSA's blessing, the car now fits the key criteria required to pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards test. It's the latest regulatory boost for Google after the US government announced in January a $4bn plan to create nationwide regulations for self-driving cars.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said the initiative would provide consistency between states. It followed an announcement by the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that said cars absolutely did need a driver - a ruling Google described as "perplexing".

iPhones 'disabled' if Apple detects third-party repairs

The latest software update for iPhone 6 handsets is rendering the devices useless if it detects repairs not carried out by Apple. The problem is known as "error 53" and has appeared in Apple products before.

The Guardian reports that users' phones were disabled after the Touch ID home button was repaired by a non-Apple engineer.

Apple has confirmed that the error message is a "security measure" taken to prevent fraudulent transactions. "We take customer security very seriously and error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device's other components," it said in a statement. "If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled. This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used. "If a customer encounters error 53, we encourage them to contact Apple Support."

In its report, the Guardian cites the experiences of a freelance photographer, Antonio Olmos, who says the problem occurred on his phone after he upgraded its software. "When Olmos, who says he has spent thousands of pounds on Apple products over the years, took it to an Apple store in London, staff told him there was nothing they could do, and that his phone was now junk," the paper reported.

Many iPhone 6 customers have been discussing error 53 online. At Apple's discussion forums, one user named wallihall wrote: "With this update I'm unable to use the phone, and still have to pay for the phone itself. "I did get the front screen replaced, and I understand that it's now considered "tampered with", but at least let me use my iPhone on the old IOS system... I can't retrieve old photos or important documents I once had."

Apple told the paper that iPhone software checks whether any repairs were authorised by Apple. A spokeswoman said: "When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated."

Thousands flock to Malware Museum

An online archive of old computer malware has attracted more than 100,000 visitors since it launched four days ago. Some of the software showed an animation or messages. Others invited the infected user to play a game. Many of the viruses were created by "happy hackers" rather than organised criminals, said cybersecurity expert and curator Mikko Hypponen.

The malware all dates from the 1980s and 1990s. The versions online have all been stripped of their destructive capabilities, but show the messages they would have displayed within emulator windows. Much of the collection is mischievous and colourful in nature, but there was also more sinister malware around. "I only chose interesting viruses," Mr Hypponen said of his picks.

His personal favourite is a virus called Casino, which overwrote a crucial part of the computer's file system but took a copy of personal files and then offered the user the opportunity to win them back in a game of Jackpot. "Casino was a real problem," Mr Hypponen, who works at security firm F-Secure. "At the time the advice was, you lose nothing by playing. In the early 1990s very few people had back-ups so you had lost your files anyway." He said he was surprised by the number of people who felt nostalgic about the old malware.

"Most of the malware we analyse today is coming from organised criminal groups... and intelligence agencies," Mr Hyponnen added. "Old school happy hackers who used to write viruses for fun are nowhere to be seen."

Update on Lincolnshire ransomware attack!

A council whose computer systems were closed down by a cyber attack has said its systems are back up and running.

Lincolnshire County Council's systems were shut down on Tuesday following the malware attack, which demanded a "ransom" payment that was not paid. The council's chief information officer said IT staff had worked "24/7" across the weekend.

Julie Hetherington-Smith said they were confident people's personal data had not been compromised.

"We've done a lot of checking and we, and the police, are confident that the data is safe. Nothing has been lost," she said. The council was locked out of its systems after an email containing the malware attack was opened.

It demanded the council pay $500 (£350) in order to unscramble the data, but the authority said it would not pay.

Mrs Hetherington-Smith said there would be some catching up to be done by staff as they had been using pen and paper for nearly a week. She added the council would be reviewing its security systems in light of the attack and ensuring their anti-virus software was the latest available.

Spam programmer avoids prison !

A computer expert has avoided jail after being convicted of helping to send millions of spam messages. Naveed Ahmed, 27, of Tampa, US, wrote a programme that helped a group of scammers bombard mobile phones with unsolicited text messages. Recipients were told they had won gift cards for an electrical retailer that could be claimed by visiting a website.

He was sentenced to two years probation and can continue to work with computers monitored by probation officers.

Contact information harvested by the scam was submitted to Internet Cost Per Action networks, which are companies that gather personal information and pay for submissions.

ICPA networks are legal - but the way Ahmed and his group obtained the details they submitted was not, said Assistant US Attorney Jimmy Kitchen. Ahmed is thought to have earned more than $2,000 (£1,400) a week between September 2011 and February 2013 by taking part in the scam, according to the Associated Press.

'Invincible'

It is believed the money raised was channelled though a Swiss bank account controlled by a so far unidentified co-conspirator. Ahmed was one of 12 people charged for advertising their computer skills for illegal use on a cybercriminal marketplace which was shut down by the FBI in July. Ahmed told the judge: "I know my actions were irresponsible... I had this naive, immature view of being invincible." Defence lawyer Melvin Vatz said Ahmed was "a man of considerable intelligence" who had "succumbed to directing those talents in the wrong way".

Lincolnshire County Council hit by £1m malware demand

Lincolnshire County Council's computer systems have been closed for four days after being hit by computer malware demanding a £1m ransom. Ransomware encrypts data on infected machines and only unscrambles it if victims pay a fee.

The authority said it was working with its computer security provider to apply a fix to its systems.

Chief information officer Judith Hetherington-Smith said only a small number of files were affected. She said the authority took action once the malware was identified and shut its systems down.

This meant some services were affected and also some files. Mrs Hetherington-Smith said: "People can only use pens and paper, we've gone back a few years."

Talking about the attack, she said: "It happened very quickly. Once we identified it we shut the network down, but some damage is always done before you get to that point - and some files have been locked by the software. "A lot of the files will be available for us to restore from the back-up." The council is "hopeful" most systems will be back working early next week. It described the ransomware as "the biggest attack" it had ever experienced, adding it was "zero-day malware", meaning it was previously unknown to security experts.

The authority said it was "unfortunate to be the first victim", and was confident it had appropriate security measures in place. Lincolnshire Police have confirmed they are investigating the attack.

The scale of Cyber attacks is increasing......

Cyber-attacks that bring down websites and online services have been getting bigger every year. But how will businesses cope in 2016? Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks work by overloading websites or other online services with traffic. They have the power to knock whole sites offline and are usually carried out by automated bots or programmes.

Darren Antsee, chief security technologist at software company Arbor Networks, believes the world is in an "arms race" between those carrying out DDoS attacks and those who try to defend against them His firm conducts an annual survey of internet service providers on the subject and the company also takes in data from its "Atlas" system - which monitors 300 providers every hour. Mr Antsee says this gives the firm an idea of what's happening across "about a third of the internet".

Mr Antsee concurs and points out that a variety of motivations could prompt attacks these days. The most common now, according to the Arbor Networks survey, is criminals flexing their muscles against online targets to demonstrate their capabilities.

Businesses occasionally dabble in attacking competitors, and there are also reports of individuals using DDoS for extortion - in which a ransom fee is demanded from the owners of a victim site. Finally, it's also sometimes the case that DDoS attacks will take place for "ideological" reasons - a website supporting a political viewpoint might be thrown offline by supporters of the opposing view, for example. In terms of protection, companies like Cloudflare offer to analyse web traffic for signs of malicious requests which can often weed out unwanted connections. Mr Antsee adds that "infrastructure access control lists" (ACLs) can be installed in routers and switches to detect suspicious patterns in traffic.

Asda bug exposed online shopping details

The US-owned retail firm, which processes hundreds of thousands of online orders each week, could have put millions of transactions at risk, security expert Paul Moore estimates.

He first noticed the issue in March 2014 and contacted Asda to report it.

Asda said it had now fixed the problem and no customers had been affected.

The firm, whose website is run by US retail giant Walmart, said: "Asda and Walmart take the security of our websites very seriously. We are aware of the issue and have implemented changes to improve the security on our website."

"The points flagged pose a low risk to customers and our monitoring of these security issues indicate that no customer information has been compromised over that two-year period."

Since Mr Moore went public with the information it has acted to improve its security.

"The small risk to customer information has been removed and an update has been applied, we're now adding further enhancements which will be completed by this evening. In short, one of the two issues is fixed but nothing that remains poses any risk to any customer information or card details".

The issue occurred because of two well-known exploits, cross-site scripting (XSS) and cross-site request forgery (CSRF), which combined, can offer hackers access to all the information users put on the site, said Mr Moore.

It means that - if someone had both the Asda website open and another site that is infected with malware - they could be vulnerable to attack.

"CSRF exploits the trust a site has in the user's browser, allowing an attacker to issue requests on your behalf and from your own PC. XSS allows an attacker to embed malicious content into the page to alter anything and everything the user can see," he explained.

Asda is by no means alone in having a website open to these security flaws but Mr Moore believes that it should have acted more quickly to rectify the problem.

"Back in March 2014, I contacted Asda to report several security vulnerabilities and despite a fix promised 'in the next few weeks', little appears to have changed," he said.

"Asda also failed to issue adequate security headers which help mitigate the risk by instructing the browser to discard content which ASDA deem malicious or unnecessary. The majority of modern browsers support content security policy (CSP) which effectively blocks this type of attack, but very few sites adopt this technique," he added.

When he published his blog, he advised users "to shop elsewhere".

"Asda/Walmart have had ample opportunity to fix these issues and have failed to do so. If you must continue shopping with Asda, open a private window and do not open any other tabs or windows until you've logged out," he added.

Prof Alan Woodward, a security expert from the University of Surrey, said that Asda's assertion that its site is secure is correct but that does not mean that users are not at risk.

"Cross-site scripting can easily be exploited by hackers if someone has a website open that has this malware embedded at the same time as they are shopping online and the shopping site has not protected the data entry fields appropriately," he said.

"Most people do have dozens of tabs open at any given time."

He did not go as far as suggesting people stop shopping there but added: "I think I'd play safe and make sure you have only one tab open just in case one of your other sites is infected."

"This is an example of of how companies need to look beyond the boundaries of their own website. This is a common exploit but it can be very easily fixed. It is half a line of code that can fix it," he added.

There are scanners available online that can immediately tell whether websites have the correct security headers.

One such site that scans the web for such headers found that, out of the million most popular websites, only 1,365 sites had them in place.

Netflix planning to crack down on Proxy use

Video-streaming giant Netflix has said it is going to stop subscribers from using internet proxies to view content not available in their home countries.

Due to licensing agreements, Netflix content varies between countries - many users have a virtual private network (VPN) or other proxy to get round this. The firm said it would increase efforts in the next few weeks to block the use of such proxies. Netflix expanded streaming services to more than 130 countries last week.

Netflix has expanded its streaming service to 130 countries, but not all countries have access to the same content But some countries have more content than others - for example, the Australian Netflix catalogue has only about 10% of the content available to its US subscribers.

David Fullagar, vice president of content delivery architecture, said in a blog post on Thursday that the US firm was in the process of licensing content around the world. But he said it had a long way to go before it could offer viewers the same films and shows everywhere. "If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn't be a reason for members to use proxies or 'unblockers' to fool our systems into thinking they're in a different country than they're actually in," he said. "In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location."

Subscribers that currently use proxies to view content outside their countries will only be able to access the service in their own countries in the coming week, the company said. Those members that do not use VPNs will not be impacted by the crackdown, it added. The move is a reversal of Netflix's denial last week after reports had surfaced that they would be restricting VPN access to their content.

Neura - The Ultimate Privacy Buster

Gilad Meiri's demo was both terrifying and enlightening. It is something his company, Neura, normally only shows internally to its employees.

But it's something that would be food for thought for the many companies showcasing their so-called smart gadgets at the Vegas show. His firm has created smartphone software that sucks in data from many of the apps a person uses as well as their location data.

"You should be scared,It is a radical view of privacy". The screen he showed me displayed a week in the life of Neura employee Andrew - detailing all of his movements and activities via the myriad of devices - phones, tablets and activity trackers - that we all increasingly carry with us.

Spy technology.

The search firm relies on having access to information about people's web-browsing habits to make money. It has also moved into connected devices via its smart home division Nest, although it says it does not mix the two sets of data.

While Mr Meiri says that Neura's technology could be combined with Google's he adds he has no intention of forming a partnership with the US giant.

"Google takes data and serves ads, and in response you get a free service," Mr Meiri said.

"Our model is radically different - we take your data, transform it into knowledge that you can sell back to companies.

"We are like PayPal for the internet of things.

"We facilitate transactions, and our currency is your digital identity. "It is a spy technology, but it is powered by trust."

Consumers win So, why would a consumer want to share such sensitive data? It would, Mr Meiri said, allow smart devices to become truly smart. "The fact that an oven is connected to the internet is not smart - but an oven that knows when you have left the house and left the oven on, that is. "It is about devices understanding you."

While companies making smart devices already have valuable data on customers, there are also dozens of different protocols for how devices talk to each other, making the burgeoning industry something of a Wild West, according to experts.

"This year's CES underlines the desperate levels of fragmentation and confusion in connected-home solutions," said Ben Wood, of research company CCS Insight.

The numerous gadgets on show that supported Google's Nest, Amazon's Echo and Apple's HomeKit risked "consumers sleepwalking into a connected home experience curated by technology giants", he added. Neura is hoping to change that.

"With the internet, we have lost the battle to control our data, so changing the data economy for the internet of things, opposing the Google model is worth a shot," Mr Meiri said.

The toilet that only needs to be cleaned once a year....

An "intelligent" toilet that opens when you approach it and self-cleans with every flush is on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It also cleans the user with an aerated wand, which delivers warm water and warm air "from a seated position", a spokeswoman said.

Despite a £6,704 price tag, more than 40 million earlier versions of the Neorest toilets have been sold.

Bathroom firm Toto said the new prototype was still in development. Its self-cleaning process uses a combination of a disinfectant and a glaze - made out of zirconium and titanium dioxide - which coats the bowl.

"Once it flushes it sprays the interior of the bowl with electrolysed water," explained Toto spokeswoman Lenora Campos.

She said the "proprietary process" essentially turns the water into a weak bleach.

"This bleaches the interior, killing anything in the bowl," said Ms Campos. Meanwhile an ultraviolet light in the lid charges the surface.

That makes it super-hydrophilic so nothing can stick to it - and also photocatalytic, enabling oxygen ions to break down bacteria and viruses.

CES 2016: A look at LG's roll up flexible HD screen

Can you imagine a tv screen that can be rolled up, scrunched around and in other words treated like a piece of paper?

The one I played with was 18in (45.7cm) corner to corner, but the team at LG say they're aiming for screens that are 55in and beyond.

At that size they will be able to produce a screen quality of 4K, they say - that's four times HD.

Right now, the resolution is 1,200 by 810 pixels. How did they do it? Of course they wouldn't share the precise details, but the crucial technological leap has been moving from LED TVs to OLED TVs.

The O stands for organic, and it removes the necessity of a back panel providing light to the screen. Therefore, it bends. Why would you want a bendable TV? LG says it's ideal for making displays, like in a shop, but also for people who no longer want to sacrifice an entire corner of a room to a television. With a bendable screen like this, you can roll it up and pop it in a cupboard until you need it again.

Unfortunately - and you knew this bit was coming - LG isn't able to say how much it would eventually cost, or indeed, when it will actually be sold at all. At the moment, the team is buried in the prototype stage.

The screen can be bent but not folded flat "The larger prototype is expected in the near future. But as for a commercial product, we're still planning the timing," says KJ Kim, LG Display's vice president of its marketing division. That can be translated as it'll be a while yet. Because while the screen is remarkable, it suffers a few flaws. The night-time demo we saw, with quick flashing lights, was designed to conceal the numerous "dead" pixels in the display.

Dead pixels are those that have been damaged, so instead of emitting the correct colour just get appear as a tiny empty square. There were several dead pixels on the screen and, after I played around with it a bit more, several more emerged.

Right now, the screen can only be rolled up in one direction, which isn't a limitation, really, but something they will need to suss out before it comes to market.

Also, it's crucial to point out that the screen can be rolled, but not folded flat.

Folding it flat would permanently damage it, and therefore the screen doesn't represent a chance for something many have lusted over for a while, an interactive video newspaper that feels just like the paper product. But we're getting there.

AVG'S Web TuneUp put millions of Google Chrome users at risk

It has emerged that a popular tool meant to ward off malware contained a flaw that put millions of people's personal data at risk.

AVG's Web TuneUp software is marketed as a free way for users to defend themselves from "hidden threats".

But earlier this month Google's security team spotted that it was overriding safety features built into the search firm's Chrome browser.

AVG said it had addressed the problem, but it now faces repercussions.

Google's Tavis Ormandy first flagged the issue to other members of his Project Zero team on 15 December.

He highlighted that Web TuneUp was "force installing" a plug-in into Chrome, meaning that users of the product had no way to opt out of it altering the browser's settings.

As a result, he said, people's internet history and other personal data could be seen by others if they knew where to look online. Furthermore, he said, the code could potentially let hackers spy on people's email and other online activities.

'Harsh tone'

On 15 December, he contacted the Amsterdam-based cybersecurity firm.

"Apologies for my harsh tone, but I'm really not thrilled about this trash being installed for Chrome users," he wrote.

"My concern is that your security software is disabling web security for nine million Chrome users, apparently so that you can hijack search settings and the new tab page.

"I hope the severity of this issue is clear to you, fixing it should be your highest priority."

Messages between the two organisations reveal that AVG's initial attempt to address the flaw did not work.

But on Tuesday, Mr Ormandy confirmed that a new version of the plug-in had resolved the issue.

AVG confirmed the fact in a statement.

"We thank the Google Security Research Team for making us aware of the vulnerability with the Web TuneUp optional Chrome extension," it said.

"The vulnerability has been fixed; the fixed version has been published and automatically updated to users."

However, Mr Ormandy also informed AVG it would be prevented from auto-installing the plug-in for new Web TuneUp users as a consequence of the debacle.

"Online installations are disabled while the CWS [Chrome Web Store] team investigate possible policy violations," he wrote.

Second flaw

An independent security expert said the case should serve as a warning. "The vulnerability Google discovered is very serious, and allowed any website to access the passwords and other confidential information for any other website the AVG customer had visited," commented Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London.

"Although it is now fixed, it shows that almost any software installed on a computer can introduce security vulnerabilities, even if that software is intended to improve security."

This is the second time a problem with AVG's products has been highlighted this year.

In March, researchers at Ensilo flagged that the firm's Internet Security 2015 program had contained a bug that made it possible for hackers to add code to Windows PCs that would disable some of Microsoft's own protection measures.

Google launches high speed network in Kampala

As a part of a project to provide cheap and affordable network in third world countries, Google launched high speed network in 120 critical points in Kampala, a city of a country that has about 8.5 million internet users which make 23% of the population. Google plans on providing the service to local companies which will then charge their customers as they find fit. Google estimates a cost of around $0.30 for a whole day of unlimited service.

Toshiba gets £39m fine

The Japanese company faces now a 7.37bn yen fine due to overstating its profits for a period of seven years by $1.3bn This fine is considered the largest accounting violation in Japan. Some say the fine was well expected by Toshiba as the company claims that it has been saving up for a situation like this, the company is estimated to have saves an amount of around 8.4bn yen.

Hackers could render UK Trident Nuclear systems useless

Cyber attacks could end up penetrating UK's nuclear system, former Defence Secretary Lord Browne warned.

The ex-Labour minister stated that unless "weak spots" were protected, there was "no gurantee" of a reliable nuclear deterrent for the PM "when he needs to reach for it".

Ex-Conservative Defence Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind played down the risk. The comments come ahead of a Commons debate on the future of Trident.

On Monday it was revealed the cost of renewing the system had risen to £31bn. The government also said the start date for the replacement submarines had been put back until "the early 2030s" as it unveiled its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). The review said the UK was a "world leader" in cyber security.

Lord Browne, who was defence secretary between 2006 and 2008, has said that ministers had an "obligation" to assure MPs all parts of the nuclear deterrent had been assessed against the risk of a cyber attack and that protections were in place.

Lord Browne added: "If they are unable to do that then there is no gurantee that we will have a reliable deterrent or the prime minister will be able to use this system when he needs to reach for it."

But Sir Malcolm said: "The whole point of our nuclear weapons is not whether they would work - 100% guarantee - if they were ever required. You think they will do.

"The question is whether an enemy contemplating aggression would be prepared to take the risk."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We wouldn't comment on the detail of our security arrangements for the nuclear deterrent but we can and will safeguard it from any cyber threat.

"We are investing more than ever before on the UK's defensive and offensive cyber capabilities to protect our national interests.

"Last week the Chancellor outlined a plan for £1.9bn in cyber investment, including a £165m Defence and Cyber Innovation Fund, to support innovative procurement across both defence and cyber security."

In the Commons on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed MPs would get a non-binding vote on whether to renew the four submarines carrying the UK's nuclear missiles.

Official Labour policy remains to renew Trident, but party leader Jeremy Corbyn is firmly opposed and a review is taking place to consider the party's stance.

China to up the super computer count?

China has almost tripled its number of supercomputers, according to a reputable list of the world's most powerful machines.

The country has 109 high-performance computing systems on the biannual Top500 list of supercomputers, up 196% from 37 just six months ago.

The most powerful supercomputer, China's Tianhe-2, also retained the top spot for the sixth consecutive time.

In contrast, the US has seen the number of its supercomputers decline. The US has 200 machines in the rankings, which is the largest number from a single country. But, that total number has fallen to the lowest level since computer scientists started compiling the list 22 years ago.

The power of the biggest supercomputer

Tianhe-2 was created by China's National University of Defense Technology and is being used at a supercomputer centre in the southern coastal city of Guangzhou.

It is capable of performing 33.86 quadrillion calculations in one second, which is almost twice the speed of the second most powerful supercomputer on the list - the US energy department's Titan.

Supercomputers are developed to perform complex simulations or applications to help scientific research in a wide range of industries such as predicting weather forecasts to making drug discoveries and DNA sequencing.

Rajnish Arora, vice president of enterprise computing at market research firm IDC Asia Pacific, said China's rise does not necessarily mean the US is under-investing, but is more to do with the evolution of China's economy and businesses.

"When China started off appearing on the centre stage of the global economy in the 80s and 90s, it was predominately a manufacturing hub," he said. "All the IP (intellectual property) or design work would happen in Europe or the US and the companies would just send manufacturing or production jobs to China. "Now as these companies become bigger, they want to invest in technical research capabilities, so that they can create a lot more innovation and do basic design and engineering work."

The Chinese government and companies want to become the creators and not just producer of products that are being designed elsewhere, he added.

David Schibeci at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia said that while the Top500 list is a good "general rule of thumb", it is not the final arbiter of the value of supercomputing services.

"I'd expect ranking systems to develop a focus on how much valuable research is produced by these systems and the outcomes that benefit the world," he said.

"Nations like China have a great opportunity to take a leading role in the HPC (high-performance computing) space but it's important that they focus on research support and upskilling of staff rather than just raw numbers for the Top 500."

China has the money to invest in supercomputers

Chinese companies are also taking a lead as manufacturers of supercomputers, according to the Top500. Chinese firm Sugon overtook IBM in the systems category with 49, while IBM ranks fourth with 45 systems. US tech giant Hewlett-Packard is at the top of the list with 156 supercomputer systems.

However, the rankings of the world's top five supercomputers has remained unchanged since June 2013. Mr Arora of IDC says this is in part to do with the significant investment required to build a supercomputer.

"Companies need to assess whether they really need that large a system to solve the problems they have," he said.

The availability of money is driving Chinese investment in the industry, added Andreas Wicenec, professor of data intensive research at the University of Western Australia.

"[It is] to show a high, almost disruptive impact in a field that was completely dominated by the US for decades," he said. "At this point in time, the impact of all these computers is not visible in research outputs in the fields I am used to monitoring more closely."

However, if China opened its vast computer resources to international collaborators, its impact in the research field could change very fast, he added.