Are they really racing to build powerful computers that predict the future? This past June, none of the three most powerful computers in the world came from the United States. This is the first time this has happened in over two decades. According to the Top 500 list, the top two computers both came from China and number three came from Switzerland.
Building a Supercomputer That Predicts the Future
Those top two supercomputers that come from China are running at speeds of 33 and 93 petaflops. Petaflops are how computer performance is measured. One petraflop is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000 calculations every second. The goals of competing nations like the United States and Japan are to build supercomputers that are even faster than China’s number one 93 petaflop unit. Specifically, these competing countries are racing to see who builds the first exascale supercomputer. An exaflop is equal to 1,000 petaflops. No computer on the planet is anywhere near this power level.
Understanding the Value of these Powerful Exascale Computers
Of course, people are left wondering why we need these supercomputers. How can they help us? Here’s why – when computers have more power, they can create more and more models that are realistic. Not everyone is aware that these supercomputers have been predicting weather, hurricanes, and even earthquakes for years. But they lack the power and ability when it comes to modeling the complexity of biological systems and how to harness wind energy more effectively.
It is believed that an exascale supercomputer could resolve questions like how to grow food in drought conditions, or the precise effects of climate change. And it could even forecast crime.
Believe it or not, constructing a new exascale computer has become national-level endeavor. Recently, the Dept of Energy in the United State paid out over $258 million to six companies to work on this supercomputer. Those companies were Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices, IBM and Cray. Experts claim that there is no one single company – or even a group of companies – that could afford such a project. This is why the government is helping fund the project.
China and Japan are also trying to create exascale computer machines. All of these countries realize that the first country that achieves this goal will have a huge advantage in the world. Such a supercomputer will unlock various ways to predict the future as well as paving the way for much technological and scientific advancement. Of course, this will result in supreme economic power as well.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of building a powerful supercomputer is how it would assist us in creating a more sustainable future. The winning country will be able create plants that are drought resistant and create biofuels as future energy sources.
Supercomputers and Crime
Exascale supercomputing power will be able to assist federal agencies as they analyze surveillance data. These machines will be able to digest information fast enough to thwart crimes and terror attacks. It’s not that security agencies do not have sufficient data now, the problem has been trying to analyze the information quickly enough to take helpful actions against crimes.
The Department of Energy believes they America could build the first exascale machine by the year 2021. Of course, such a computer will need the right software in order to utilize its abilities. Authorities believe that this software requirement gives the United States a huge advantage over China and Japan.
It will be interesting to see how can build powerful computers that predict the future.