US gov’t taps The Machine to beat China to exascale supercomputing
With China threatening to build the world’s first exascale supercomputer before the US, the US Department of Energy has awarded a research grant to Hewlett Packard Enterprise to develop an exascale supercomputer reference design based on technology gleaned from the The Machine, a project that aims to “reinvent the fundamental architecture of computing.”
The DoE historically operated most of the world’s top supercomputers, but in recent years China has taken over in dramatic fashion. China’s top supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight, currently has five times the peak performance (93 petaflops) of Oak Ridge’s Titan (18 petaflops). The US has gesticulated grandiosely about retaking the supercomputing crown with an exascale (1,000 petaflops, 1 exaflops) supercomputer that would be operational by 2021ish, but China is seemingly forging ahead at a much faster clip: in January, China’s national supercomputer centre said it would have a prototype exascale computer built by the end of 2017 and operational by 2020.