Fastest supercomputer in the world capable of running more than a quintillion calculations PER SECOND will be built in the US by 2021
- The U.S. says Frontier will be the fastest in the world and will be ready by 2021
- Frontier will be 1.5 exaflops which is 50 times faster than other supercomputers
- China is also developing an exascale computer that will be ready next year
- Traditional computers could theoretically be outpaced by quantum computing
The U.S. says it will have the world’s fastest supercomputer ready in just two years.
The U.S. Department of Energy says it has signed a contract with Cray Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to build a machine called Frontier, capable of computing at 1.5 exaflops — a level 50 times faster than current supercomputers.
The department says its endeavor, which entails a $600 million investment for the development of technology and systems, will help yield new advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.
Frontier will take computers U.S. computers into the exascale, and will be as powerful as the next 160 fastest supercomputers combined
‘Frontier’s record-breaking performance will ensure our country’s ability to lead the world in science that improves the lives and economic prosperity of all Americans and the entire world,’ said U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry.
‘Frontier will accelerate innovation in AI by giving American researchers world-class data and computing resources to ensure the next great inventions are made in the United States.’
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Frontier, which will be housed at a laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will be able to exceed one quintillion calculations per second, as reported by The Verge — that’s as much processing power as the next 160 fastest supercomputer combined, said AMD.
This scale of computing power is useful for complex modeling that could help predict natural disasters, climate change, even deliver complex medical diagnoses.
While Frontier may be the world’s fastest supercomptuer once its built, China is also in the process of developing its own competitor capable of operating at an exascale, which it plans to have ready a year earlier than Frontier.
China also outpaces the U.S. in number of supercomputers, with with 227 of the world’s fastest computers compared to America’s 109 according to The Verge.
As the project to build Frontier gets underway, the U.S. and Intel are also in the midst of developing another supercomputer called Aurora that will be capable of operating at an exascale.
Spectrum is currently the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of handling 200,000 trillion calculations per second
That machine is slated to be finished in 2021 and is being developed in Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. Both supercomputers will follow up a the previous record-setting computer, Summit, which was released by the U.S. Department of Energy last year.
Outside of traditional computing, scientists and physicists have been attempting to pioneer new fronts that they hope will pave the way for advances in the future — to do this, researchers have turned to the world of quantum physics.
Quantum computing as it’s called uses a rule of quantum physics called ‘superposition’ which means that a particle can be in two states at once.
This means, instead of a traditional binary bit, which cane either be a one or a zero, a quantum bit, or qubit, could be both a one and a zero, therefore exponentially widening the number of calculations capable per second.
The technology, which is still mostly in its theoretical stages, has seen increasing interest from some of the biggest tech firms throughout the past several years, including Intel and Google.
WHAT IS A QUANTUM COMPUTER AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The key to a quantum computer is its ability to operate on the basis of a circuit not only being ‘on’ or ‘off’, but occupying a state that is both ‘on’ and ‘off’ at the same time.
While this may seem strange, it’s down to the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern the behaviour of the particles which make up an atom.
At this micro scale, matter acts in ways that would be impossible at the macro scale of the universe we live in.
Quantum mechanics allows these extremely small particles to exist in multiple states, known as ‘superposition’, until they are either seen or interfered with.
A scanning tunneling microscope shows a quantum bit from a phosphorus atom precisely positioned in silicon. Scientists have discovered how to make the qubits ‘talk to one another
A good analogy is that of a coin spinning in the air. It cannot be said to be either a ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ until it lands.
The heart of modern computing is binary code, which has served computers for decades.
While a classical computer has ‘bits’ made up of zeros and ones, a quantum computer has ‘qubits’ which can take on the value of zero or one, or even both simultaneously.
One of the major stumbling blocks for the development of quantum computers has been demonstrating they can beat classical computers.
Google, IBM, and Intel are among companies competing to achieve this.
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