Supercomputing prowess heads nations' concerns

Leading countries no longer fixated by only military superiority, but high-performance computing capabilities increasingly seen as critical for industrial competiveness, report notes.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

The United States as well as China, the European Union, Japan, India and Russia are just some of the leading countries looking to accelerate their investments on high-performance computing in order to reap economic benefits--increasingly a priority ahead of enhancing their military strengths.

The Financial Times (FT) reported on Saturday that new Nvidia CTO Steve Scott said a supercomputing race was taking place among top nations to be the first to reap the economic benefits of reaching exaflop speeds.

"It's really critical for industrial competitiveness, military superiority is not the most important thing anymore," Scott said in the report.

FT noted that China, the European Union, India, Japan and Russia have joined the U.S. to expand their exascale computing capabilities. "This has become a real priority for national governments. There's a growing realization around the world that high-end computing is at the root of economic competitiveness," Scott explained.

Supercomputing can help with various key tasks, from designing better engines to new materials and drugs, due to the ability to create more accurate simulations. It can also model scientific pursuits such as climate change, cell growth and nuclear fusion, the report noted.

Scott's comments come in the wake of last Tuesday's announcement that the graphics chipmaker will supply 18,000 graphic processing units (GPUs) to upgrade a supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which operates the open science computing facility for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Earlier, industry watchers ZDNet Asia spoke to pointed out that while Moore's Law would continue to propel innovations in the semiconductor space to boost computing power, organizations that utilize high-performance computing should look at squeezing out more from their existing IT infrastructures.

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