Japan Throws Down the Gauntlet With Plan for World's Fastest Supercomputer

By Rhett Jones on at

Officials in Japan have announced a plan to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in a bid to reaffirm the country’s place as a leader in technological advancement.

If all goes according to plan, the processing monster will cost 19.5 billion yen (£138 million) and will be cable of 130 quadrillion calculations per second, Reuters reports. It is a rare thing to be able to use the word “quadrillion” in a manner that isn’t an exaggeration. Phrased another way, the planned supercomputer clocks in at 130 petaflops, which would decidedly surpass the current fastest in the world — China’s Sunway Taihulight which maxes out at 93 petaflops.

Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s ‎National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, had an intriguingly humble way of saying that it will blow the competition out of the water: “As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast.” Which leaves the imagination to wonder about secret hidden supercomputers plowing through data in hollowed-out mountains.

The move comes at a time when Japan hopes to return to its glory days as top dog in technology. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently pushed for his government to work more closely with private industry to assure that Japan leads the way in robotics, batteries, artificial intelligence and other key areas of growth.

The as yet unbuilt computer will be called the ABCI, an acronym for AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure. It is expected to compete with deep learning systems like Google’s DeepMind AI program and will be made available to private businesses for a fee. Currently, Japanese corporations have to outsource intensive processing to companies like Microsoft and Google.

Bidding for the project has already opened and will end on 8th December. Work is expected to begin as early as next year. [Reuters]