The 20th century space race ushered in some of the most significant scientific discoveries of the era. Now, the efforts of private companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin, as well as traditional governmental agencies like NASA, have sparked a new space race that’s bringing about next-level space technologies.
However, the Space Race 2.0 isn’t the only technological competition in the world today — the smartest minds across the globe are competing to create the most powerful supercomputer on the planet.
Since 1996, the United States has consistently been home to one of the three fastest supercomputers in the world. Unfortunately for the U.S., that streak has ended as the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Titan supercomputer has been bumped to the number four slot. The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre’s Piz Daint now holds the bronze following an upgrade involving the addition of Nvidia GPUs.
The U.S. is not taking this bump to fourth place lying down. Last week, the DOE announced that it was making $258 million available to help fund the next big supercomputer.
According to MIT Technology Review, the U.S. government expects to have a system that can perform one quintillion operations per second by 2021. That would be 50 times faster than Titan and 10 times faster than China’s TaihuLight, the current world leader.
Of course, the rest of the world won’t spend the next four years content with what they’ve already created. China is looking to further cement its place at the top of the supercomputing heap by heavily investing in the next generation of supercomputers. The nation is even setting a more ambitious goal for itself than the U.S. — they believe their more powerful machine will be ready by 2020.
Ultimately, this race for the world’s most powerful supercomputer will benefit us all, as the devices will help humanity with everything from healthcare to predicting the weather. Truly, there are no losers when innovation is the goal.