Obama orders US to build ‘exabyte’ supercomputer to overtake China

The US lags behind China in the supercomputer race

US president Barack Obama has ordered the US to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in a bid to lead the world in high-performance computing (HPC).

Obama has signed an executive order to establish a new National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) that will lead research into the machine, which will be capable of exaflop calculations, a billion billion every second.

The US government has not revealed any information on how much funding is being put forward for the project, or when it expects the supercomputer to be operational.

A White House blog post said that focusing investment, time and energy in this area of computing is vital as more data than ever is created.

“With the availability of large data sets, including web pages, genome datasets, and the outputs of scientific instruments, data analytics has emerged as a new form of large-scale computing, extracting meaningful insights from diverse data collections,” it said.

“These big data approaches have had a revolutionary impact in the commercial sector and in scientific discovery. Over the next decade, these systems will manage and analyse data sets of up to one exabyte.”

The post continued by noting some of the ways in which HPC could deliver potentially revolutionary benefits, ranging from improved weather simulations to better artifical intelligence systems and even bomb-resistant vehicles.

“By strategically investing now, we can prepare for increasing computing demands and emerging technological challenges, building the foundation for sustained US leadership for decades to come, while also expanding the role of HPC to address the pressing challenges faced across many sectors,” the blog added.

The NSCI will be managed by three main government agencies: the Department of Energy, the Department of Defence and the National Science Foundation.

The US is currently lagging behind China in the supercomputer league table. China’s Tianhe-2 machine (pictured above) leads the way with performance of 33.86 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second).

By contrast, the best US machine can achieve 17.59 petaflop/s.

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30 July 2015 | 2:09 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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