US playing catchup with China in quest for first quantum computer
Government awards new grants, but still trailing China, Japan
As China leaps towards the development of a quantum internet, on the heels of a breakthrough in quantum communications in June, the US is trying to play catchup in the field of quantum computing.
Last month, the US Department of Energy awarded six technology firms a total of US$258 million as part of efforts to accelerate the development of the nation’s first exascale supercomputers. Exascale computers are capable of performing one quintillion calculations per second, which would bring computing to a new post-petascale era.
The new funding is part of the US Exascale Computing Project (ECP), lead by the Deparment of Energy, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, NASA, the FBI and other agencies
How does the US stack up against the competition? According to the ECP:
- China has had the #1 spot on the Top500 list since June 2013 and the top two spots since November 2016
– The new #1 machine is a Chinese machine that uses indigenously designed and manufactured processors and software stack
– Chinese researchers using the new machine won November 2016 Gordon Bell prize recognizing outstanding achievement in HPC
- China vastly outspends the US on exascale
– Has 3 potential exascale architectures in development and plans to deploy prototypes by the end of 2017
- China is growing a skilled national workforce, partially through repatriation of experts trained abroad