Taiwan to launch new supercomputer in July: scientists

The China Post news staff and CNA

A Taiwan-made supercomputer that is expected to be listed among the 100 fastest in the world will be operational in July as part of the Republic of China’s centennial celebrations, government-backed researchers said yesterday. The construction of the supercomputer is part of a science project initiated by the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) with the aim of expanding Taiwan’s research capability in several fields. NARL’s goals include setting up bio-medical research centers, developing autonomic space exploration systems, forming alliances for exchanges of nano-scale technologies and launching a large research ship, said NARL President Chen Wen-hwa. The new supercomputer, working at 170 trillion floating-point calculations per second, should rank between 51st and 55th among the world’s most powerful computers when it comes online, said Chiang Kuo-ning, director of Taiwan’s National Center for High-Performance Computing.

Chiang added that he believed the new supercomputer will remain among the top 100 for the following two years. At a cost of NT$300 million (US$10.26 million), Acer Inc. is responsible for building the new supercomputer, creating a faster and more complex model that will provide a wider range of science computing services than the current supercomputer, which works at 20 trillion floating point calculations per second, Chiang said. The new supercomputer will consume NT$30 million to NT$50 million worth of electricity per year, he added. While 30 percent of the top 100 supercomputers in the world are used for financial purposes, Chiang explained that the supercomputers in Taiwan have been used to boost research in scientific fields such as physics and chemistry. Meanwhile, a new 2,700-ton research vessel will be launched at Kaohsiung Harbor in May or June this year, announced Chen Kuo-hsing, deputy director of Taiwan Ocean Research Institute. It will be the first ocean research vessel of that size in Taiwan, he said, noting that the existing ships are around 300 to 890 tons. The new vessel is expected to substantially improve Taiwan’s marine research and exploration capability and also help foster greater public awareness of ocean research, he said.