Japan is about to build the world's fastest computer

Supercomputer supremacy

Japan has announced its intention to climb to the top of the international supercomputer rankings by building the fastest computer in the world by 2018.

At the moment there are two main players when it comes to building powerful supercomputers, and they are China and the USA. Those countries dominate the supercomputer world rankings, and although China currently holds the top two positions, the US holds three, four, and five. If Japan has its way, though, that could all change by 2018.

According to Reuters, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry has budgeted 19.5 billion yen (around $173 million) to build a computer that will be capable of making 130 quadrillion calculations per second (130 petaflops). This is more than China’s world-leading Sunway TaihuLight. which tops out at just over 93 petaflops.

Super fast and super useful

Building these supercomputers isn’t just about the international prestige, of course; this supercomputer is a big part of the Japanese government’s plan to make the country a world leader in the area of technology once again. 

Recently, Japan has faced tough competition in the area from countries such as China and South Korea. As a bonus, such advanced computing technology will have many useful applications for Japan. 

The plan is to use the supercomputer to make significant advancements in AI, as well as give the country's tech manufacturers a massive boost in terms of the research they’re capable of, and the quality of products they can produce. There are also plans to charge Japanese companies to use the computer to perform heavy data lifting, rather than having them rely on companies such as Google and Microsoft. 

The project has been named AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure, or ABCI for conversational ease. At the moment those running the project are seeking bids from manufacturers who think they’re up to the task of helping to build the computer and have it up and running by 2018.

Although China and the USA dominate the top five spots in the supercomputer chart, Japan does still hold the sixth and seventh positions. It should be noted though that Japan’s current supercomputer is only capable of 14 petaflops, so building a machine capable of 130 petaflops will be a significant jump and an impressive achievement in such a short space of time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma is TechRadar's graduate writer covering the latest technology news. She loves nothing more than being unnervingly enthusiastic about gaming, VR, AI, and acronyms.