The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Friday that it is spending $425 million for two supercomputers made by International Business Machines (IBM). The advanced technology will be used on research projects related to science and nuclear weapons.
The supercomputers will be installed for Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. IBM also announced that it closed a $325 million deal with the federal department for the two supercomputers. Forbes reported that DOE also allotted another $100 million for the development of faster computers.
The technology company worked with graphics processing units (GPU) maker Nvidia and computer network supplier Mellanox Technologies to enhance the speed of IBM's central processing units (CPUs). The IBM units are estimated to be five times faster than the 16 GB per second speed of traditional supercomputers.
The supercomputers will run at 100 to 150 petaflops, exceeding the speed of China's supercomputer, which clocks in at 55 petaflops. The National Nuclear Security Administration will use Sierra for the nuclear weapon testing through simulations, according to Reuters.
DOE secretary Ernest Moniz announced in an event that the investment will encourage "transformational advancements in basic science, national defense, environmental and energy research."
The Wall Street Journal suggested that the U.S. department pushed for this investment in an attempt to topple China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer, which currently holds the fastest computing speed. Coincidentally, the announcement was made few days before the Top 500, a project that ranks the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world. While the United States has the majority of the supercomputers on rank, China grabbed the top spot in speed.
The two supercomputers are expected to go live in 2017 and 2018.