President Obama has signed an executive order authorising the US to build the world’s fastest computer in the next 10 years. The goal is to create a supercomputer which is 20 times faster than today’s fastest machines.
Obama’s order has led to the launch of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), which will help coordinate research and build the computer system.
Supercomputers are at the centre of many important scientific and defence research projects. So far, supercomputers have created elaborate models in the fields of weather prediction, anthropology, neuroscience and biology. Recently, Tianhe 2 high-capacity computing system, has been useful in diagnosing and managing current and future diseases, by analysing a large amount of genetic data.
While today’s supercomputers currently work well with the data researchers, they will soon find these computers limiting. As a result, the US is seeking to create a powerful computer system that is significantly faster than today’s models, to perform complicated tasks, analyse complex data and support scientific research and national security projects. The computer would be known as an exascale machine. According to the White House’s “Precision Medicine” initiative, an exascale system could aid the creation of personalised drugs, while the European Commission’s “Human Brain Project” hopes that it will help them unlock the secrets of the human brain. The supercomputer could also provide more accurate weather forecasts and assist in cancer diagnoses by analysing x-ray images.
Although the challenges that the engineers face in building supercomputers “are not trivial”, researchers told the BBC that they hope to meet the plan’s deadline and construct the exascale computer by 2025.