This Japanese supercomputer aims to challenge the world's fastest

The ABCI supercomputer will be used for artificial intelligence and machine learning research.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director
China's Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer

The new Japanese ABCI system could rival the world's current fastest computer, China's Sunway TaihuLight.

Japan is building a hugely powerful supercomputer for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning research.

The AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) supercomputer promises more than 100 petaflops of computing power to enable "world-class AI R&D", according to the country's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) -- one of the largest public research organizations in Japan.

ABCI "will rapidly accelerate the deployment of AI into real businesses and society," the institute said.

It described the supercomputer -- due to be built by the end of next year -- as having "extreme computing power", tailored for AI machine learning and deep learning research. It also features "multi-petabyte-class" shareable big data storage for AI R&D collaboration, the institute said.

"As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast," Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at AIST, told Reuters. The news agency also said that the Japanese government will spend 19.5 billion yen (around $173 million) on the project, which will feature around 130 petaflops of computing power.

That's likely to make it one of the most powerful supercomputers around: the current number-one supercomputer, the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight, currently boats 93 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. Another Chinese supercomputer, the Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) currently holds second place.

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