August 5, 2015
President Obama recently signed an executive order, the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), with the intention of creating the first exaflop supercomputer. This computer would be about 30 times faster than today’s fastest machine, and would be geared toward the development of ongoing scientific and defense research projects. Although the supercomputer would be useful for a vary of governmental projects, many see this initiative as a response to China’s 33.86 petaflop Tianhe-2, now the fastest supercomputer in the world.
A supercomputer with these capabilities would be significant in fields such as aerospace engineering, preventative medicine, The Human Brain Project, and even climate change.
Although several government agencies have been working on developing more advanced supercomputers, each agency has worked separately, reports Wired. The new initiative plans to bring together agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
While China currently has the fastest supercomputer, performing at 33.86 petaflops, an exoflop is approximately 1,000 petaflops. China’s supercomputer was announced by TOP500, an organization that ranks supercomputers. While the United States still has the highest number of computers on the Top500 list, researchers are concerned about falling behind China.
“By strategically investing now, we can prepare for increasing computing demands and emerging technological challenges, building the foundation for sustained U.S. leadership for decades to come, while also expanding the role of high-performance computing to address the pressing challenges faced across many sectors,” explains the White House press release.