China has announced the construction of a next-gen supercomputer that they claim would be 10 times faster than the current most powerful computer in the world — which is also Chinese.
National Super Computer Tianjin Center director of application Meng Xiangfei said that the newer innovation in high-performance processors and other important technologies will enable them to build the world’s first exascale supercomputer that they call the Tianhe-3.
According to agency director Liu Guangming, Tianhe-3 will is set to generate over 10 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) in economic benefits per year. The team expects to complete a prototype by 2018 and have it fully operational by 2020, China Daily reports.
The researchers used the term “Exascale” which means the computer will be capable of making a quintillion (18 zeros) calculations per second.
The Sunway TaihuLight, currently the fastest supercomputer, has a speed of 125 quadrillion (15 zeros) calculations per second. To illustrate the jump in power, current supercomputers can analyze smog distribution in a district while an exascale supercomputer will be able to analyze that kind of data on a national level.
“Its computing power is on the next level, cementing China as the world leader in supercomputer hardware,” Meng said.
The technology aims to “tackle some of the world’s toughest scientific challenges with greater speed, precision, and scope”, he added.
From the processors to the operating system, the developers of the Tianhe-3 will use only Chinese-made components. The completed prototype will be stationed in Tianjin.
“Such machines take years to make and typically are retired in six to eight years, so you always need a backup, especially when your older models are overworked,” Meng said, hinting that there may be other exascale computers in the works in China.
China’s first quadrillion-level supercomputer developed in 2009, called Tianhe-1, is currently utilized at its full capacity, completing more than 1,400 tasks per day.
Among the many possible uses for the Tianhe-3 include more detailed earthquakes and epidemic outbreaks simulations, faster gene sequence and protein structures analysis, according to Meng.