[The Street]The Next Great Supercomputer Is Coming -- Here's Everything to Know About It
China is planning to boost its computing power tenfold within a couple of years by building a new generation supercomputer.
The machine will be based on the coast of Shandong province to process the data collected from the world's oceans, according to scientists briefed on the project.
A Hong, professor of computer science with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei and a member of a committee advising the central government on high performance computer development, said the world's first exascale computer would have a dedicated mission of helping China's maritime expansion.
An exascale computer is defined as one that can carry out one billion billion calculations per second. It is not only 10 times faster than Sunway Taihulight - at present the world's fastest computer which operates from Wuxi, Jiangsu - but equal to the calculation power of all the world's top 500 super computers combined.
An said the machine could be finished as soon as 2019. Three independent supercomputer manufacturers on the mainland are competing for the contract. They include Sugon, or the Dawning Information Industry, which is owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the National University of Defense Technology, which built the Tianhe series supercomputers, and the Sunway team. They have produced blueprints featuring vastly different architectures, according to An.
The authorities are looking to pick a design that not only offers a high performance but will be ready for immediate use once built. The budget for the project is expected to be between one and two billion yuan (US$150 million-US$300 million).
"The most important question to us is not whether China can build an exascale computer, or how fast, but why," An said.
"There is indeed a race among nations on supercomputers, but this is not our concern. Our concern is the ocean," she added.
When elected leader of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, President Xi Jinping promised to turn China into a "hai shang qiang guo", or maritime superpower, with an expansionist policy that would, according to the state media, be comparable with the fleet of Zheng He established during Ming dynasty six centuries ago to spread China's influence over the world.
On May 11, the Nature Publishing Group released Nature Publishing Index 2010 China, remarking “a dramatic rise in the quality of research being published by China”. University of Science and Technology of China is ranked 3rd of TOP 10 Institutions in Index 2010 China.