If you’re interested in supercomputers, you may remember an article from June which talked about China’s Sunway TaihuLight taking the lead on the TOP500 supercomputer list. That computer managed to score 93 petaflops in tests, beating another Chinese supercomputer called the "Tianhe-2" which scored 33 petaflops. Now Japan hopes to take the top spot.
According to Reuters, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen (USD$173 million) on developing a new supercomputer called the "ABCI" (AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure) which should be able to reach 130 petaflops (or 130 quadrillion calculations per second). Sources involved with the project believe we could see the new machine achieve this goal as early as next year.
The computer will be built at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Satoshi Sekiguchi, the director general at the institute, said that “as far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously called for companies, bureaucrats and the political class to work in a closer fashion so that the country can get ahead in robotics, batteries, renewable energy and other new markets. The new supercomputer should help in one such emerging market: artificial intelligence. Having a machine capable of doing ultra-fast calculations will mean quicker advances in artificial intelligence fields like ‘deep learning’ which aim to get AI 'thinking' in a similar way to the human brain.
Once built, ABCI will be available for a fee to Japanese corporations which currently outsource data crunching tasks. Bidding for the project has begun and will close on December 8th.