China has the world’s fastest supercomputer in 2015, but in 10 years it might not be able to say the same. On July 29, President Obama signed an executive order calling for the U.S. to build the world’s fastest computer by the year 2025. The supercomputer would be 20 times quicker than the current leading machine, which is the Tianhe-2 in China’s National Computer Center located in Guangzhou.
This new supercomputer would be capable of making one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second, also known as one exaflop. The National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) is a collaborative strategy to research and build the computer.
The U.S. wants the new supercomputer to perform complex simulations, aid scientific research, and handle national security projects. It is hoped the machine would help to analyze weather data for more accurate forecasts and assist in cancer diagnoses by analyzing patients’ X-ray images. There is also word directly from the White House that suggests the new supercomputer would allow NASA scientists to model turbulence, which would help significantly in manufacturing streamlined aircraft without having to use wind-tunnel testing.
There are challenges that come with building such a complex and large-scale supercomputer, but it seems like the No. 1 issue is the electricity it will require. If the NSCI strategy is unable to make multiple computer components power-efficient, then this machine might come with a $65 million price tag on the electricity bill alone.
This is clearly the latest initiative for the U.S. to challenge the Chinese in the realm of technological advances. With a new president entering office in 2016, there is also no guarantee that this executive order will remain in place. Only time will tell.