The United States did not take well the fact that the world’s most powerful super computer has been manufactured by China. So, the American President Obama signed a special order for the creation of the world’s fastest computer. The machine is expected to be manufactured in the next 10 years, by 2025.
This ambitious and difficult task, has been given to a new special interministerial body, the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), according to BBC, “Science” and “The New York Times”. In fact, the Washington Post calls the initiative a “moonshot” in the world of supercomputing.
The project aims to speed up the development of an “exascale computing system” — a supercomputer that can process billions of operations per second. It’s a system that is hard to fathom, but could revolutionize the way scientists measure climate change, discover new materials, and study the human brain. Also, the powerful machine will be used in more than a few fields – such as genetics, medicine, neuroscience, astronomy, etc – where advanced means are found vital. Of course it is very likely to see some interference with national security topics.
“I think somewhere along the lines of a hundred million to a billion modern-day laptops would represent the early stages of exascale computing,” said Thomas Sterling, a professor at the Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing and chief scientist at its Center for Research in Extreme Scale Technologies.
“The truth is that if you go back to the 1960s, the technology for a moonshot was largely known. It was largely an engineering effort, albeit one of tremendous scale,” said J. Steve Binkley, the associate director of the Department of Energy’s office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research. “In the case of exascale, there are a couple of areas where we still need to do active research.”
Tianhe-2 or TH-2 (which literally means “Heavenriver-2”) is China’s super-computer and is located in the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou. It is the world’s fastest supercomputer according to the TOP500 lists for June 2013, November 2013, June 2014, November 2014 and June 2015 as it has a processing power of 33.86-petaflops. That number is almost twice bigger than the world’s second best super-computer (that belongs to the United States). However, on the Top 500 list of the most powerful computers in the world, 233 machines belong to America and only 37 are Chinese.
Obama’s decision needs to be approved by the State House and the Senate of the U.S. but that should not be a problem, as both the republicans and the Democratic Party support this plan for national prestige and interest purposes. The price that will be required for the construction of such a powerful machine remains unknown for the time being. Just figuring out how to build a proper “exascale computing system” is going to come with its own engineering challenges, some of which won’t be apparent until the work is really underway. Stay tuned, to find out all the latest news on this and many other hot topics!
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