America’s first exascale supercomputer set for 2021 debut

The next step up in supercomputer performance is exaflops, and there is something of an arms race between nations to get there first — although it’s much more benign than the nuclear arms race of the last century. If anything, it’s beneficial because these monster machines will allow all kinds of advanced scientific research. 

An exascale computer is capable of processing one exaflop, one quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations of floating point operations per second. That’s about a trillion times more powerful than a consumer laptop. 

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China has said it will have an exascale computer by 2020, one year sooner than the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DoE) recently awarded $258 million in funding to six companies — HPE, Intel, Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices and Cray — to work on improving the energy efficiency, reliability and overall performance of a national exascale computer system.

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