• Sunway TaihuLight.

Sunway TaihuLight. (Photo : National Supercomputing Center )

A prototype of world's first exascale supercomputer -- a machine that can perform an unimaginable 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) calculations per second -- might be unveiled by China within the year.

Like Us on Facebook

A fully functional exascale computer based on this prototype, however, might make its appearance by 2020 or 2021.

Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per second. One exaFLOPS is a thousand petaFLOPS or a quintillion floating point operations per second.

Exascale computing is considered a significant achievement in computer engineering since it's believed to be the order of processing power of the human brain at the neural level.

China plans to name its first exascale supercomputer Tianhe-3.

It's announced the prototype for Tianhe-3 should be finished in the coming months. China's National Supercomputer Center announced the completion of the Tianhe-3 prototype is ahead of schedule, and is expected to be completed this year, instead of 2018 as originally predicted.

It will take two or three years, however, before the finished prototype will be developed into a fully functional model.

The center announced a complete computing system of the exascale supercomputer and its applications might be expected by 2020. Tianhe-3 will be 200 times more powerful than China's first petaFLOP supercomputer, Tianhe-1, which was the world's fastest in 2010.

China's fastest supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight, has a peak performance rate of 124.5 petaFLOPS, making it the world's first system to exceed 100 petaFLOPS. It's capable of one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.

In contrast, Tianhe-3 can do 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) calculations per second.

China is developing its first exascale supercomputer as part of its 13th Five-Year-Plan (2016-2020). The government of Tianjin Binhai New Area, the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin are working on building the Tianhe-3 prototype.