Forget superhumans, the world is moving towards supercomputers for faster, smoother, and a more intelligent digital experience. In the digital era, the war is not for arms, ammunitions, or people. It is, in fact, for leading the nation towards a digital superiority. Before you start wondering about an exascale supercomputer, it is a computer that’s capable of computing a billion-billion calculations/second. Currently, China is leading the pack with its Sunway TaihuLight. This is the world’s fastest supercomputer as of now and theoretically, it is capable of performing 124.5 petaflops; the first system to surpass a 100 petaflops of performance.
U.S, on the other hand, does not want to remain behind and that is why it has awarded $258 million to six leading companies of the nation as a funding towards the development of exascale supercomputer. The Department of Energy (DOE) allocated this funding to Nvidia, AMD, Cray, HPE, IBM, and Intel. The total investment will be of $430 million and each company has already agreed for providing at least 40 percent of the individual project costs. This funding will not be allocated all together but over a period of three years in the contract.
For layman, it will be an obvious question that why the nations are behind exascale computing and building an exascale computer compared to regular ones. Well, exascale computing has one major benefit and that is it can surpass the limits that regular computing faces. It includes many things like big data (the latest uproar in the digital world), high energy consumption, outdated systems, etc.
This is not the first time DOE invested in such a project, reports The Verge. Back in 2011 also it had awarded $97 million to Nvidia and Cray to build the fastest supercomputer in the world, named Titan. As of now, DOE has one aim, and that is to build at least one exascale supercomputer by 2021. But even though it is planning for the future, the present model, Titan, is behind China in this race. It is on the third rank and China at the numero one position.
The capabilities and performance levels of an exascale supercomputer can show breakthrough results in varied areas. From scientific discoveries, financial sectors, military use, to commercial sectors, an exascale supercomputer can be as powerful as it gets. Even though the advancements in this technology is decades away from commercialization; the final plan is to make the same available to public, not only to the government and military, reports The Verge.
Moreover, China announced in January its plans to have the prototype of the first exascale supercomputer of the world running. It also said that it plans on having a complete exascale supercomputer by 2020. It is a wait until 2020 to see which nation bags the crown of developing the world’s first exascale supercomputer.
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