U.S. Invests $258 Million in Supercomputing Race With China – Rachael King June 15, 2017 2:00 p.m. ET


Energy Department to award cash to six tech companies to develop world’s fastest computers

In June 2016, China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer took the top spot in a twice-yearly ranking of the 500 fastest scientific computers.

In June 2016, China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer took the top spot in a twice-yearly ranking of the 500 fastest scientific computers. Photo: Li Xiang/Xinhua/Associated Press

The U.S. government is trying to stave off China and other countries challenging the U.S. for dominance in the next generation of the world’s fastest computers.

The Department of Energy on Thursday said it would award $258 million over three years to be shared by six tech companies, as part of a plan to develop new supercomputers that can crunch data at least 50 times faster than the nation’s most powerful systems today.

The companies are Advanced Micro Devices Inc., AMD -2.29% Cray Inc., CRAY -1.97% Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. HPE -1.31% , International Business Machines Corp. IBM 0.27% , Intel Corp. INTC -0.62% and Nvidia Corp. NVDA 0.43%

U.S. government leaders warned in a September 2016 technical meeting convened by the National Security Agency and the DOE that the country was in danger of losing its leadership in supercomputers to China. Governments have long used these systems to crack codes and develop nuclear weapons, and the supercomputers have business purposes such as oil exploration and auto design.

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