(Phys.org) The Department of Energy (DOE) is preparing for the first exascale computer to be deployed in 2021. Two more will follow soon after. Yet quantum computers may be able to complete more complex calculations even faster than these up-and-coming exascale computers. But these technologies complement each other much more than they compete.
Exascale computers will be ready next year. When they launch, they’ll already be five times faster than our fastest computer—Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science user facility. Right away, they’ll be able to tackle major challenges in modeling Earth systems, analyzing genes, tracking barriers to fusion, and more. These powerful machines will allow scientists to include more variables in their equations and improve models’ accuracy. As long as we can find new ways to improve conventional computers, we’ll do it.
DOE is designing its exascale computers to be exceptionally good at running scientific simulations as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence programs. Quantum computers, on the other hand, will be perfect for modeling the interactions of electrons and nuclei that are the constituents of atoms. As these interactions are the foundation for chemistry and materials science, these computers could be incredibly useful.

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