PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has signed an executive order authorizing the creation of new supercomputing research initiative called the National Strategic Computing Initiative, or NSCI. Its goal: pave the way for the first exaflop supercomputer—something that’s about 30 times faster than today’s fastest machines.
Supercomputers are at the heart of a huge number of important scientific and defense research projects. They’re used by aerospace engineers to model planes and weapons, and by climatologists to predict the the near-term impact of hurricanes and the long-term effects of climate change. Researchers involved in the White House’s Precision Medicine initiative believe exaflop speed supercomputers could aid the creation of personalized drugs, while the European Commission’s Human Brain Project hopes they will help unlock the secrets of the human brain.