Thanks Obama AUTHOR: KLINT FINLEY.KLINT FINLEY BUSINESS DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07.29.15.07.29.15 TIME OF PUBLICATION: 5:36 PM.5:36 PM OBAMA WANTS THE US TO BUILD THE WORLD’S FASTEST SUPERCOMPUTER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has signed an executive order authorizing the creation of new supercomputing research initiative called the National Strategic Computing Initiative, or NSCI. Its goal: pave the way for the first exaflop supercomputer—something that’s about 30 times faster than today’s fastest machines. Supercomputers are at the heart of a huge number of important scientific and defense research projects. They’re used by aerospace engineers to model planes and weapons, and by climatologists to predict the the near-term impact of hurricanes and the long-term effects of climate change. Researchers involved in the White House’s Precision Medicine initiative believe exaflop speed supercomputers could aid the creation of personalized drugs, while the European Commission’s Human Brain Project hopes they will help unlock the secrets of the human brain. Several government agencies, most notably the Department of Energy, have been deeply involved in the development of supercomputers over the last few decades, but they’ve typically worked separately. The new initiative will bring together scientists and government agencies such as the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation to create a common agenda for pushing the field forward. The specifics are thin on the ground at the moment. The Department of Energy has already identified the major challenges preventing “exascale” computing today, according to a fact sheet released by the government, but the main goal of the initiative, for now, be to get disparate agencies working together on common goals. It’s hard not to see the initiative as a response to China’s gains in supercomputing. Earlier this month TOP500, an organization that ranks supercomputers by performance, announced that China’s 33.86 petaflop Tianhe-2 is still the fastest supercomputer in the world. The US still has more computers on the TOP500 list than any other country in the world, but researchers have worried for years about falling behind China. An exaflop is about 1,000 petaflops, and would represent a massive leap forward in computing power. But creating an exaflop computer is about more than just finding a way to build faster hardware. Creating applications that can take advantage of such an architecture is a challenge in its own right. NCSI will also prioritize the creation of supercomputers that can handle vast quantities of rapidly changing data.