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China invests 3 billion yuan to build world’s first exascale supercomputer by 2020

According to China Daily, the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen plans to build a next-generation supercomputer that will be 10 times faster than the world’s current speed champion.

“The investment is likely to hit 3 billion yuan ($470.6 million), and key technologies for the supercomputer are expected to be developed independently,” said Mr Wang Zhenglu, Director of Project Management at the Center.

The supercomputer will be exascale, meaning that it will be capable of making a quintillion (1 followed by 18 zeros) calculations per second, much faster than today’s top supercomputer Sunway TaihuLight. The new supercomputer is expected to be developed by 2020.

Mr Wang also said that the exascale supercomputer will play an important role in promoting the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, especially in cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. It will also work with traditional industries like steel and mining to build business models, as well as creating smart-healthcare and smart cities.

China has been increasingly investing in supercomputer development and have raced ahead of the United States and Japan. According to the latest biannual ranking of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers, China’s Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2 are the world’s fastest and second-fastest machines in the world.

Sunway TaihuLight is a system housed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi and developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) while Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2) is deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou a system and is developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT).

Currently, China has six supercomputing centers across the country, they are located in Tianjin, Guangzhou, Wuxi, Changsha, Jinan and Shenzhen. Founded in 2009, the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen focuses on high performance computing and cloud computing. Recently, the Center purchased 420 more rack-mounted servers, 10 graphics processing servers and a group of storage systems to support its work in cloud computing.

According to Associate Professor Wang Gang at the College of Computer Science and Technology at Jilin University, China has an edge in hardware, but need more efforts to develop tailor-made software for supercomputers to widen their applications.

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