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Faster than 50 million laptops – the race to go exascale

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Story highlights

ExaFLOP supercomputers will perform a billion, billion operations every second

Exascale computer would be 1,000 times faster than today's quickest machines

Issues over power consumption remain stumbling block to their creation

First exaFLOP computers expected to go online around 2020

CNN —  

A new era in computing that will see machines perform at least 1,000 times faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers is almost upon us.

By the end of the decade, exaFLOP computers are predicted to go online heralding a new chapter in scientific discovery.

The United States, China, Japan, the European Union and Russia are all investing millions of dollars in supercomputer research. In February, the EU announced it was doubling investment in research to €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion).

See also: Super telescope to search for secrets of universe

What is an exaFLOP?

Computer scientists measure a supercomputer’s performance in FLOPS, an acronym for FLoating Point Operations per Second, while “exa” is a metric prefix which stands for quintillion (or a billion billion). An exascale computer could perform approximately as many operations per second as 50 million laptops.

“It is the next frontier for high-performance computing,” says Dimitrios Nikolopoulos, professor at the School of Electronics at the UK’s Queen’s University of Belfast.

Exascale by numbers
Exascale by numbers

How fast are today’s supercomputers?

Today, the fastest supercomputers operate at the petaFLOP level says Nikolopoulos, performing in excess of one quadr