President Obama has signed an Executive Order calling for the US to significantly up its game in the supercomputer space. The effort, known as the National Strategic Computer Initiative (NSCI), will aim to build the world's fastest supercomputer by 2025.
The NSCI initiative will be an multi-departmental research, development and deployment effort focusing on the creation of a brand new supercomputer. The mission statement is essentially to make sure that the US has the most capable machine a decade from now, allowing for high-end computational problem solving in both the public and private sectors.
One key notion behind the effort is to combine data intensive and computationally intensive High-Performance Computing systems (HPCs) into a single machine, allowing for the lightning fast manipulation of vast quantities of numerical and non-numerical data.
Overall, the goal is to produce a system capable of analysing data sets of a size of up to one exabyte (10^18 bytes), while making 10^18 calculations per second – known as an exaflop. For comparison, China's Tianhe-2 – the current leader of the supercomputer pack – has a speed of 33.86 petaflops. A petaflop is equal to 10^15 calculations per second.
But what would this new breed of supercomputer actually be used for? Well, the White House makes one suggestion, stating that it could make future aircraft design much more straightforward, with the increased power allowing for much more complex Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculations, and all but eliminating the need for physical wind tunnels.
Of course, that's just one example – who knows what uses scientists, companies, and the US government could cook up for such a capable system. With a targeted completion date of 2025, they've got a while to think on it.
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