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U.S. Efforts to Build Next-Gen Supercomputer Take Shape

Computerworld (04/25/16) Patrick Thibodeau

The U.S. government has set a 2023 deadline to develop an exascale computer that can solve science problems 50 times faster than is possible with currently available 20-petaflop computers. The system will consume between 20 MW and 30 MW of power. “The U.S. faces serious and urgent economic, environmental, and national security challenges based on energy, climate, and growing security threats,” says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “High-performance computing (HPC) is a requirement for addressing such challenges, and the need for the development of capable exascale computers has become critical for solving these problems.” The government plans to spend almost $300 million on exascale system development in 2016, while a 2017 budget calls for a slightly higher allocation. Published DOE planning documents estimate the total cost for an exascale system at about $3 billion. University of Tennessee professor Jack Dongarra notes China is pursuing a 100-petaflop system with two projects, and an announcement is expected soon. The competition to build an exascale system “is really up for grabs at this point,” says IDC analyst Steve Conway.

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