It will be about seven times the speed rating of the most powerful system built to date.

US to build first exascale supercomputer in 2021Pic Courtesy: Twitter / @argonne, In Pic U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (left) and Intel CEO Bob Swan
Atom Tech Shorts Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 15:50

The US has disclosed its plan to build an exascale supercomputer, about seven times the speed rating of the most powerful system built to date.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) granted a $500 million contract to Intel and sub-contractor Cray Computing and the supercomputer, called Aurora, will be delivered to the department's Argonne National Laboratory near Chicogo in 2021, the DOE said in a statement, reported Xinhua news agency.

The Aurora system's exaFLOP of performance -- equal to a "quintillio" floating point computations per second -- combined with an ability to handle traditional high performance computing with Artificial Intelligence (AI), will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale, according to the statement released on Monday.

"The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world's biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO.

The IBM supercomputer is currently ranked the fastest computing system in the world, a notch occupied by China's Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe 2A for five years.

DOE said the new Aurora supercomputer will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, "furthering the US' scientific leadership position globally."

The new plan is seen as part of a catching-up race for the fastest supercomputer between China and the US, and China's counterparts to Aurora may come out neck and neck or even earlier than the American one.

The prototype of China's new-generation exascale supercomputer Tianhe-3 has been tested for over 30 organizations in China. Its final version is expected to come out in 2020.

Also, the Sunway exascale computer is expected to be up and running in the second half of 2020 or the first half of 2021.

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