President Obama's 2012 budget request specifically focuses on exascale computing, the first time the word has appeared in the federal books.
Under Obama's budget request, the Department of Energy would get $126 million for exascale development, with about $91 million going to DOE's Office of Science and $36 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to a breakdown by Computerworld. In 2011, the DOE had budgeted about $24 million for "extreme scale" computing, as opposed to exascale.
Today, the world's fastest computer is China's Tianhe-1A, pictured above, which performs 2.5 petaflops via 7,168 GPUs and 14,336 CPUs. A petaflop is one thousand trillion (one quadrillion) operations per second.
Not to be outdone, DOE is getting a new 10-petaflop system called Mira, which will be be twice as fast as today's fastest supercomputer. IBM said Mira is a stepping stone toward exascale computing. An exaflop is 1,000 times faster than a petaflop, and equates to quintillion operations per second, or a million trillion calculations.
An exascale system is estimated to happen in the 2018-2020 time frame, solving questions that have remained beyond our reach, like understanding regional climate change and designing safe nuclear reactors.
Designing safe nuclear reactors is beyond our reach? What of the 30+ year old nuclear powered submarines that have served this country without incident?
they are monitored by the NNSA.
Not to mention the ability to analyze and maximize political structures, equate the properties of meta-materials, and better understand and model higher level physics phenomenon allowing us to develop radical new technology/propulsion. Computers are going to make our world an amazing place before they take it over.
So wouldn't that go beyond the human brain in terms of computing speed and volume? The human brain must operate roughly between 10-100 quadrillion calculations per second. So, an exa-scale supercomputer would break through that human brain threshold and perhaps then allow scientists to approach a near complete understanding of the brain, consciousness and thought processes, etc.
How 'bout Wackamole?! Can you beat my score?
Yes, computers will eventually eclipse the power of the human mind, as applies to hard calculation and full processing and storage with recall. Still; when considered next to the total sum of all the calculations needed for E=MC^2, it will be shown that inline computation will still come up short next to the human 'leap of logic' that turned all of those blackboards of calculations into something so elegant and simple. Had we been using sequentially ordered hard calculations, would we be to "The Formula" yet? With the special circumstances where we think now that it is either slightly flawed, or at least incomplete; it seems to me that though we might eventually get to the correct equation through computation, we are better served by intuitive analysis of what we have in hand. That still means people. Or has the whole of the physics community given up? Awarded the mantle of great minds to some computer program? Once upon a time there was the most advanced computer in the world, and the proud builders showed it off to a group of elementary students who were told they could ask the MCP anything they wanted to know the answer to. The vaunted MCP was stumped by a ten year old asking what a peanut butter sandwich tasted like. Einstein probably knew what it tasted like. Computer 'greater' than human mind that created it? We are still a very long way from that day, no matter how fast it is.
"Designing safe nuclear reactors is beyond our reach?" yeah I agree. this line seems a little overzealous. I would like to think we knew how to design safe nuclear reactors 60 years ago when we started building them ALL OVER THE WORLD! Nothing is perfect so I am not sure what these computer are going to do in terms of a nuclear reactor. Are you telling me that by being able to do more calculations faster than any computer it will be able to make 2 of the 4 forces known to man null and void. the strong and week nuclear force??? wow. now that is a powerful computer. I guess it will keep gravity and electromagnetism intact. I prefer to keep those two safe and sound.
Gee, what is this guy serious about 126 million for computers or 56 billion for trains? The answer is TRAINS. What was America thinking when they elected this fool?
How could a Computer be smarter than a Programmer? it's like being smarter than everyone in the world, since all information is concieved from data the prgrammers input, and probably from the interblag as well. Sure, they can hypothesize outcomes and such using known conditions and previous outcomes, but only because doesn't get distracted by shiny objects or large squirrels scratching their butts on Youtube. Make a Computer that does that, and you'll have an accomplishment. Basically, they're building a giant calculator.