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The technology ministry aims to develop a next-generation supercomputer some 73 times faster than today’s record-holder, ministry officials said Monday.

According to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the planned supercomputer will operate at a maximum speed of 10 petaflops, or 10 quadrillion floating point operations per second.

That would far exceed the current record of 136.8 teraflops held by the U.S. supercomputer Blue Gene/L, which was jointly developed by IBM and the U.S. government.

The ministry plans to seek several billion yen in research funds in fiscal 2006, which begins next April.

The total amount for the project is likely to reach 80 billion yen to 100 billion yen by the time the project is completed in 2010, if all goes as planned, the officials said.

Such high-speed computers are necessary for simulating experiments that are difficult to conduct or take too much time in real life. Researchers hope to use the computer to develop new drugs, to simulate the formation of galaxies and to predict the paths of typhoons and intense rainfall.

The Japanese supercomputer Earth Simulator held the title of world’s fastest for 2 1/2 years until last September, with a speed of 35.9 teraflops. However, as of June it had fallen to fourth place.

Panting along behind Blue Gene/L in the speed charts are the BGW and Columbia systems, both created in the United States. The U.S. is also planning to create a supercomputer of petaflop ability by 2010. A petaflop is equal to 1,000 teraflops.

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