Japan has planned to build the fastest supercomputer ever in an effort to help the manufacturers in the country by giving them a platform where they will be able to research and develop in various fields such as medical diagnostics, robotics and self driving cars.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has planned to spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on the project, that was previously unreported, a budget breakdown shows, as part of a government policy to get Japan back at the top of the technological race. The country has lost its edge in many technological fields as the competition from South Korea and China, the world’s current best-performing machine, intensifies.
In an effort to bring Japan back in the limelight, the country’s engineers will build a supercomputer that will be able to make 130 quadrillion calculations per second – or 130 petaflops in scientific parlance – by next year, sources involved in the project told Reuters.
This speed will be a lot more than China’s Sunway Taihulight that is preforms 93 petaflops. “As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be built.
This gigantic effort to get ahead in the race of power in the technological field comes at a time when the nostalgia for the heydey of Japan’s technological prowess is high, as it’d technological prowess has dwindled since China entered the race as the worlds second biggest economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has asked the companies, bureaucrats and the political class to work more together so Japan can win in the new and running markets of technology.
In the field of supercomputing, Japan’s main motive is to use ultra-fast calculations to speed up the advances in artificial intelligence (AI), such as “deep learning” technology that works on algorithms which copy the human brain’s neural pathways, to help computers perform new and difficult tasks.
Recent accomplishments in this area have been from Google’s DeepMind AI program, AlphaGo, which in March beat South Korean professional Lee Seedol in the ancient board game of Go. Applications of the supercomputer are many, including helping companies improve selfdriving vehicles by allowing them to analyze and study huge troves of visual traffic data, or it can also help factories improve automation.
China uses its Sunway Taihulight for weather pharmaceutical research, weather forecasting, industrial design and many other things. Japan’s new supercomputer might be able to help tap medical records to develop new services and applications, Sekiguchi said.
The supercomputer will be made available by paying a fee to Japan’s corporations, who at present outsource data crunching to foreign firms such as Google and Microsoft, Sekiguchi and others involved in the project said. The new computer has been named ABCI, which is an acronym for AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure. Bidding for the project has begun and will end on Dec. 8.
Fujitsu Ltd, the builder of the fastest Japanese supercomputer to date – the Oakforest-PACS, capable of 13.6 petaflops, denied to say if it would bid for the project. The company has, however, said it is eager to be involved in development of the.