Who says nationalism is out of style? This week MEXT (the ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology-their acronym) in Japan unveiled plans to build a supercomputer by 2010 that will operate at a maximum speed of 10 petaflops, or 10 quadrillion floating point operations per second, according to the Japan Times.
That would be 73 times faster than IBM's Blue Gene/L, which clocked in at 135.5 teraflops, or 136 trillion floating point operations, in March to retain its title as world's fastest supercomputer. Last year, Blue Gene/L drew accolades by knocking off NEC's Earth Simulator from the top of the Top 500 Supercomputer list. Earth Simulator held the title for two and a half years. (The test to determine ranking on the list is not a comprehensive benchmark, but a substitute has yet to be introduced.)
The Chinese National Research Centre for Intelligent Computing Systems (NCIC) and the Dawning Company, meanwhile, have come out with for joint research on a supercomputer with a peak calculation speed of over 100 teraflops per second, according to Insead Innovasia, a news and analysis firm that tracks Asian technology developments. At that speed, the computer, if around today, would be one of the three fastest supercomputers in the world.
The U.S., of course, isn't standing still. IBM continues to refine Blue Gene/L. It also is involved in research projects, such as building a chip with the University of Texas that will churn a trillion calculations a second when complete in 2010.