ABCI, the worlds faster computer.
Japan's ABCI, the worlds faster computer. Image: TheUSBPort.

Japanese researchers and scientists plan to build the world’s fastest computer, an electronic brain known as the AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure, or ABCI. This machine will transcend the performance of all known supercomputers today by a significant margin.

ABCI will be able to work almost two times as fast other supercomputers currently in development by countries like South Korea and China, who are at the head of the race right now.

China’s Sunway Taihulight supercomputer runs at 93 petaflops, Japan’s ABCI can hit 130.

Japan’s leading Information Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a subsidiary of the Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), will build the computer.

Abci, Japan's supercomputer.
Abci, Japan’s supercomputer. Image: AIST.

How much will the world’s fastest computer cost?

The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry has approved a budget of 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) for this project.

Scientists divide these ‘flops’ with prefixes like ‘mega’ and ‘Giga,’ just like people usually do with megabytes and gigabytes, for example.

Intel processors are perfect to explain just how powerful Japan’s machine will be. The company currently holds the fastest processors available on retailers, including the i7 980 XE (Extreme Edition).

The i7 980 is capable of reaching the 109 gigaflops mark, an astounding amount of computing power, much more than any regular person could ever need.

109 gigaflops are about 0.000109 petaflops. ABCI will produce 130 petaflops. That is 130 million gigaflops.

Scientists determine a computer’s ‘flops’ by calculating how many operations a computer can solve in a given period, the standard measure being one second.

According to this measure, ABCI will perform approximately 130 quadrillion calculations per second.

When will Japan start building ABCI? 

A one-page brief from AIST stated that Japan expects to begin development of the supercomputer in the fourth quarter of 2017, at Kashiwa Campus in the University of Tokio.

They intend to house the computer in a ‘lightweight’ warehouse and power it with high-efficiency green Li-ion batteries.

“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, General Director, AIST.

ABCI will push forward Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence today not only means making computers ‘think’ like humans but also allowing them to outperform them, to reach levels of thinking physically impossible for the species.

ABCI’s power will allow it to reach never-seen-before levels of what computer scientists call Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning (DL), a subset that deals with creating brain-like structures for machines.

ABCI’s unique abilities will help perform unquantifiable operations needed to advance other fields such as medicine and physics. The institutions responsible for the supercomputer look forward to working with professionals from these areas and more.

Source: AIST