It’s been long overdue, as some may argue, but it’s beginning to take shape as Obama launches the supercomputer challenge. This means that soon, the US will overpass China, and all other countries, in having the most super supercomputer. But just how soon remains to be seen.
The Obama administration has launched the program to build the supercomputer, with President Barack Obama himself signing the new executive order to authorize its inception. The project, called NSCI, or the National Strategic Computer Initiative, will begin by researching all the possible intricacies that will go in the building of such a super machine.
The supercomputer would be the world’s first exaflop machine. That’s 30 times faster than anything that is available today.
It’s only logical that we all want bigger toys, right? It’s not just you that wants to dump your old iPhone for a new one, or your old Mac for a new laptop. But get this, the project is an effort spanning the whole of the government, meaning that not only the cool guys will get to use it, but also people from different areas of research.
The current best supercomputer in the world is in China. It’s called the Tianhe-2, and it can go up to 33.86 petaflops per second (that’s a lot – quadrillions of calculations). For comparison, the US’s biggest computer can go up to just 17.59 petaflops per second. It’s a Cray XK7 computer called Titan and it’s owned by our own Department of Energy.
Despite not having the best of the best, the US still has the most of these supercomputers, with 233 making the list of the top 500.
Still, the Department of Energy will remain one of the three lead agencies contributing to the project. The other two to contribute and beneficiate from the project will be the Department of Defense, as well as the National Science Foundation. They will contribute with their own research and in the end find out what would be the best options. Help will also be provided by IARPA and NIST, or the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Other agencies that will be able to give their 10% will be, according to Obama’s executive order, the National Institutes of Health, the FBI, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security. Each of these will have permission to integrate hardware as well as software necessary for their own field of research.
Still, with a price of $3 billion, there’s still one question that remains unanswered: will it run the upcoming Crysis?