U.S. plans to build world’s fastest supercomputers with $425 million

The U.S. government wants to take back the crown for world’s fastest supercomputer, and they’re willing to spend the money to do it — twice.

The Department of Energy announced a $425 million budget Friday that will be allocated towards research and construction of supercomputers. A $325 million deal with IBM and Nvidia will see the creation of two new supercomputers that would each claim the title of fastest in the world; with $100 million going towards the research into the future of supercomputer science.

The two supercomputers, “Sierra” and “Summit,” will be built to work at almost double and triple the speed, respectively, of China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer. Sierra, which will be used for nuclear weapons simulations, will clock in at 100 petaflops, while Summit, which will be stationed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee for civilian research, will perform at 150 petaflops. Tianhe-2, currently the world’ fastest, operates at 55 petaflops.

The rest of the budget will go towards research into “extreme scale supercomputing” technology, that aims to prepare for future supercomputer construction. The program, named FastForward2, looks to develop chips, memory and other technology that would allow the next generation of machines to operate at more than 20 to 40 times faster than today’s models.

“High-performance computing is an essential component of the science and technology portfolio required to maintain U.S. competitiveness and ensure our economic and national security,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said in a release. “DOE and its National Labs have always been at the forefront of HPC and we expect that critical supercomputing investments like CORAL and FastForward 2 will again lead to transformational advancements in basic science, national defense, environmental and energy research that rely on simulations of complex physical systems and analysis of massive amounts of data.”

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