Japan Reveals Plan to Build the World's Fastest Supercomputer

Flickr / U.S. Embassy Tokyo

Japan is about to try and build the fastest computer the world has ever known. The Japanese ministry of economy, trade and industry has decided to spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on creating the fastest supercomputer known to the public. The machine will be used to propel Japan into a new era of technological advancement, aiding research into autonomous cars, renewable energy, robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.).

“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” Satoshi Sekiguchi, director general at Japan’s ‎National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said in a report published Friday.

The computer is currently called ACBI, which stands for A.I. Bridging Cloud Infrastructure. Companies have already begun bidding for the project, with bidding set to close December 8. The machine is targeted at achieving 130 petaflops, or 130 quadrillion calculations per second.

Private companies will be able to tap into ACBI’s power for a fee. The machine is aimed at helping develop deep learning applications, which will be vital for future A.I. advancements. One area where deep learning will be crucial is in autonomous vehicles, as systems will be able to analyze the real-world data collected from a car’s sensors to improve its ability to avoid collisions.

A Google self-driving car. Autonomous vehicle technology is central to Japan's plans for future advancements.

Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

The move follows plans revealed in September for Japan to lead the way in self-driving map technology. The country is aiming to secure its position as world leaders in technological innovation, and the map project aims to set the global standard for autonomous vehicle road maps by getting a head start on data collection. Self-driving cars will need 3D maps to accurately interpret sensor input data and understand its current position.

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