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The U.S. says it will have the world's fastest supercomputer ready in just two years

The U.S. Department of Energy says it has signed a contract with Cray Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to build a machine called Frontier, capable of computing at 1.5 exaflops -- a level 50 times faster than current supercomputers.


The department says its endeavor, which entails a $600 million investment for the development of technology and systems, will help yield new advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.


This scale of computing power is useful for complex modeling that could help predict natural disasters, climate change, even deliver complex medical diagnoses.


While Frontier may be the world's fastest supercomptuer once its built, China is also in the process of developing its own competitor capable of operating at an exascale, which it plans to have ready a year earlier than Frontier.


China also outpaces the U.S. in number of supercomputers, with with 227 of the world's fastest computers compared to America's 109 according to The Verge.

The Verge的数据显示,中国超级计算机的数量也超过了美国,全球速度最快的计算机中有227台是中国的,而美国只有109台。

As the project to build Frontier gets underway, the U.S. and Intel are also in the midst of developing another supercomputer called Aurora that will be capable of operating at an exascale.


That machine is slated to be finished in 2021 and is being developed in Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. Both supercomputers will follow up a the previous record-setting computer, Summit, which was released by the U.S. Department of Energy last year.


Outside of traditional computing, scientists and physicists have been attempting to pioneer new fronts that they hope will pave the way for advances in the future -- to do this, researchers have turned to the world of quantum physics.


Quantum computing as it's called uses a rule of quantum physics called 'superposition' which means that a particle can be in two states at once.


This means, instead of a traditional binary bit, which cane either be a one or a zero, a quantum bit, or qubit, could be both a one and a zero, therefore exponentially widening the number of calculations capable per second.


A good analogy is that of a coin spinning in the air. It cannot be said to be either a 'heads' or 'tails' until it lands.


The heart of modern computing is binary code, which has served computers for decades.


While a classical computer has 'bits' made up of zeros and ones, a quantum computer has 'qubits' which can take on the value of zero or one, or even both simultaneously.


One of the major stumbling blocks for the development of quantum computers has been demonstrating they can beat classical computers.


Google, IBM, and Intel are among companies competing to achieve this.