Japan is creating a super computer to boost the country’s industry and research.
Japan wants to arm its research institutions and industries with the world’s fastest super computer to help develop and improve robots, driverless cars and medical diagnostics. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) towards this goal. The Japanese government hopes the project will invigorate the Japanese tech-industry and reclaim some of the dominance that has been lost to fierce competition from China and South Korea.
The computer, which may be completed as early as next year, will be capable of 130 quadrillion calculations per second (pentaflops). This would send Japan to the forefront of the super computing game, ahead of China’s Sunway Taihulight, which is used for weather forecasting, pharmaceutical research, industrial design, and more. Sunway Taihulight is capable of 93 pentaflops. “As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, director general at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Japan was previously at the head of the game in 2011, with its K computer (pictured above).
Japan aims to use their super computer to make advances in artificial intelligence, using ultra-fast computations to accelerate technologies like “deep learning”. Deep learning is a system of algorithms which helps the computer mimic human neural pathways and enable the computer to perform new tasks and analyze data. Google has made recent advances in this area already, with it’s DeepMind AI program. Another goal is to improve automation in factories, and to help teach driverless cars by analyzing huge amounts of visual traffic data.
Google’s DeepMind recently beat a South Korean champion at the board game Go.
When completed, Japanese corporations will be allowed to access the computer’s computational power for a fee, instead of outsourcing their data crunching to foreign companies like Google and Microsoft, as is the current standard.
The project leads have named the computer ABCI, which stands for AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure. Bidding has started for the project, and will close December 8.