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Question

When will the first exaflop performer appear?

Supercomputers just keep getting more capable. The website top500.org maintains a list of the top 500 supercomputers, on which individual U.S. and Chinese systems have been vying for the top spots.

Viewed globally, the entire Earth is starting to turn into a supercomputer. Artificial computation now consumes ~2.5 terrawatts of power, and Earth is approaching a computational rate of 0.0001 artificial bit operations per gram per second (and that goes for all 6x10^27 of the planet's grams).

According to Top500, as of November 2016, the world's most powerful supercomputer is the Sunway TaihuLight at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China. It incorporates 10,649,600 individual 1.45 GHz cores to run at a peak speed of 125,435.9 Teraflops (125 quadrillion floating point operations per second), while consuming 15,371 kW of power.

Computational progress is gradually turning once-obscure prefixes -- giga, tera, peta -- into household words. The next frontier is "exa", as in exaflop performance consisting of one quintillion (10^18) floating point operations per second. At peak operation, the TaihuLight machine runs at 1/8th of an exaflop.

At what date will the first machine achieving exaflop Rpeak performance be listed on Top500.org? (List updates tend to occur twice per year, in June and in November.)

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