MORRISVILLE – Born in China with most of its operations there, its stock traded in Hong Kong and a headquarters in Beijing, Lenovo is consistently branded as a Chinese company. Lenovo occasionally pushes back on that narrative – and such was the case Monday when the company was named the world’s top supercomputer builder.

Media report after media report labeled Lenovo as a Chinese company and included it as one of three firms that, combined, make China the world’s No. 1 supercomputer builder.

WRAL’s report, built around a story provided by The New York Times, stressed Lenovo’s US connections and the fact that the business group responsible for supercomputer development is based in the Triangle. We have reported on this group and its artificial intelligence, supercomputer, high performance computing and server efforts in the past.

Nevertheless, a Lenovo spokesperson pointed out:

“Thanks for the coverage. Lenovo is a global company with dual headquarters in Morrisville, NC and Beijing, China.” He then noted the US connections. And he was right to do so. He asked further – would revisions be made.

Thus, this story.

The Triangle connections

To clarify the “made in the USA” connection and what’s going on, The Skinny pursued some followup questions about this under-reported, emerging success story for Lenovo.

Scott Tease, executive director, High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence, of the Lenovo Data Center Group, through the media spokesperson graciously answered some questions. And he clarified points of development that date back several years.

The Skinny asked: “Does the supercomputer center work build off the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business?”

Yes. His response:

“The core of the Lenovo HPC team came from IBM as part of the October 2014 acquisition, but we have since built on the skills and capabilities by adding some unique Lenovo ingredients including Lenovo-owned manufacturing, driving higher quality and more control of our supply chain.
“We added a true openness for partnership whereas IP developed in partnership with our clients is open. This combination – what was brought over from IBM and has been built upon at Lenovo – has made us a very unique global HPC player.”
Next, The Skinny asked: Were some IBM supercomputer assets (it remains a global leader too and helped build the new machine that is currently the world’s most popular) part of the x86 deal or is this a group developed organically within Lenovo?

“In June 2014, Lenovo had zero listings on the TOP500 and we brought over a small handful of listings (less than 10) with the IBM acquisition,” he noted.

“The other 100+ have been organically won and installed systems by Lenovo.”

An expanding role

The media spokesperson also pointed out that “all architecture for our high performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) products and solutions are done at our NC lab. NC is also home for Lenovo’s SuperComputing team as well as the location of our SuperComputing test lab where all of our HPC solutions are tested, optimized and supported globally.”

All, he added, are located at our dual headquarters in Morrisville on Development Drive.

The newest part of Lenovo’s HPC efforts is an Artificial Intelligence Center in Morrisville with others located in Beijing and Germany. These were announced late last year as part of an expanding commitment to HPC by Lenovo’s chair and CEO Yang Yuanqing.

The AI center “gives clients access to cutting edge AI hardware and software as well as assistance from data scientists and architects to help customers start their AI journey,” the Lenovo representative explained.
“We have members of our HPC team located all over the globe to support our customers as they solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges in countless fields of research, but it all starts with innovation and engineering that happens here, so this is definitely a US story.”