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Advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology have the potential to disrupt the rules of the game for every industry.

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China builds world’s fastest supercomputer

This article was first published on 24 June 2013.

This story from the Sydney Morning Herald is interesting in the context of disruption.  Not because of what it says about supercomputing but because of what it says about the rapid rate at which processing power is improving.

The article notes that in November of 2010 China held the lead with the world’s fastest supercomputer.  In the two and a half years since then there have been three changes in the lead.  The first to Japan, the second to the United States and now this third change back to China.  What’s particularly striking is the magnitude of advance in the past two and a half years:

  • In November 2010 China’s Tianhe-IA ran at a speed of 2.5 petaflops
  • In 2011 Japan’s Fujitsu K computer delivered a four-fold improvement to 10.5 petaflops
  • In 2012 the United States’ Cray Titan delivered a 70% improvement to 17.5 petaflops
  • In 2013 China’s Tianhe-2 has doubled the speed again delivering 33.8 petaflops

Moreover, industry experts are predicting that by 2018 we will have supercomputers capable of operating at 1000 petaflops.

Plot the curve in your own mind.  The story here is one of massively exponential growth.  And that’s important because we know that one of the primary causes of disruption is the way in which exponential growth or change catches people unaware.  It’s exactly this kind of growth and progress that makes things that seem impossible very possible, very real and likely to arrive on our doorstep much sooner than most of us imagine.  Expect to see advances in supercomputing at the forefront of stories about disruptive technology in the future.

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