U.S. to Build Exascale Computer by 2020
The U.S. Department of Energy has signed deals with several technology companies to build, by 2020, the prototype of a supercomputer that's 62 times faster than the fastest supercomputer now.
The U.S. government wants a so-called "exascale" computer, which performs one quintillion floating point calculations — or "flops" — per second. Exascale computers could unscramble encrypted codes, test nuclear weapons, model climate change and study diseases, Nextgov reported.
Exascale computers are 1,000 times faster than 1-petaflop computers. The fastest computer in the world now is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Sequoia, which runs at about 16 petraflops.
One of the major challenges to computing on the exascale is the enormous amount of electricity required. Right now, such machines would use 2,000 megwatts of power, which is equivalent to the entire output of the Hoover Dam. The U.S. government wants an exascale computer that uses about 20 megawatts of power by the end of the decade.
The Department of Energy has given out at least $43.6 million in total to NVIDIA, Intel, AMD and Whamcloud, Nextgov reported. It's not clear if the agency has partnered with other companies because the government hasn't publicly announced its awards yet, according to Nextgov.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California will run the new research program, which is called FastForward.