Japan aims to top tech charts again, looks to build world’s fastest supercomputer

© Sigtryggur Ari
In a bid to become the world leader in robotics, driverless cars and medical diagnostics technology, Japan plans to arm its manufacturers with a platform for research by building the planet’s fastest supercomputer.

Currently China boasts several of the world’s fastest machines, but the ambitions of its Asian rival lie in building a processor that can make 130 quadrillion calculations per second – or 130 petaflops in scientific parlance – sources involved in the project told Reuters. 

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This may happen as early as next year, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set to spend 19.5 billion yen (US$173 million) on the previously unreported project.

"As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast," Satoshi Sekiguchi, director general at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be built, told Reuters.

China's Sunway TaihuLight is capable of 93 petaflops while Japan’s current fastest machine, the Oakforest-PACS, operates at 13.6 petaflops. 

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Once the new computer, dubbed ABCI, is built, Japan will no longer have to outsource data crunching to foreign firms such as Google and Microsoft, Sekiguchi and others involved in the project said.