Japan To Build Fastest Supercomputer This Year

Towards the end of 2016, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) made a rather intriguing announcement which said they are aiming to build the world’s fastest supercomputer by the end of this year, i.e. 2017. While this will immediately catapult the device into the premier supercomputer rankings, what is also an interesting question is, that whether it will also supersede the current top ranking Sunway TaihuLight, China’s offering to the world.

This ambitious project has been named Al Bridging Cloud Infrastructure, or ABCI, and should be slated for a 2018 release. What the supercomputer will be is nothing short of a phenomenal machine that can produce 130 quadrillion calculations per second using its capacity of 130 petaflops, if we are to get technical. The TaihuLight is capable of producing 93 petaflops (with a theoretical peak of 125 petaflops). For the layman, one petaflop is one million billion floating-point operations per second.

Of course, a project this vast will consume a large amount of energy, however Japan aims to keep the consumption low, at a mere 3 megawatts – something that is currently utilised by a machine (the Oakforest-PACS, also from Japan) that has only approximately one-tenth of the power (13.6 petaflops) that the new supercomputer will have. The TaihuLight for instance uses more than 15 megawatts of power. Hence, efficient power consumption is also on the agenda for the makers. In addition, the AIST also intends to use liquid cooling, which itself will set the machine apart from others in the league of supercomputers.

Japan Supercomputer

While the proposed speed of the machine is being marvelled across quarters currently, what it will actually translate to is introduce a platform of research that will help its makers – and Japan as a country – develop and introduce driverless cars, robotics and even make significant progress in the field of medical diagnostics. Therefore, the goal behind the introduction of this supercomputer is to advance further in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sphere. These calculations will bring into play advances based on algorithms that imitate the human brain’s neural pathways. What this will do is, help analyse extensive amounts of data as well as perform new tasks. For instance, automation in factories can be cranked up a level using data provided by computers using this technology. Additionally, the machine will also be lent out (at a fee) to corporations in Japan that currently outsource data crunching services overseas to organisations such as Google, bridging the gap between requirement and availability locally.

Japan Supercomputer

Of course, everyone knows that Japan is no stranger to technology and development in related areas, but this is the first venture of its kind. To recapture some of its market share, a whopping 19.5 billion yen (or about USD 173 million) will be pumped into this project. Given that the fastest computer developed in Japan this far is pegged at less than 14 petaflops, this project will be nothing short of an achievement as super as the computer itself. Let’s wait and watch!

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Picture courtesy – opensourceforu.com, www.pcworld.com

by techtalks @TechTalks February 23, 2017 2:12 PM UTC


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