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Korea to introduce 6th supercomputer in 2023

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Seen is the Nurion, the country's fifth supercomputer located at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) office in Daejeon. KISTI said Tuesday that it will introduce the sixth supercomputer, which will be 32 times faster than the Nurion, in 2023. Courtesy of KISTI
Seen is the Nurion, the country's fifth supercomputer located at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) office in Daejeon. KISTI said Tuesday that it will introduce the sixth supercomputer, which will be 32 times faster than the Nurion, in 2023. Courtesy of KISTI

By Baek Byung-yeul

Korea will introduce the country's sixth supercomputing system, which is 32 times faster than the currently most advanced Nurion supercomputer, in 2023 as part of the country's efforts to promote the advancement of science and contribute to the national economy in terms of disease research, materials development necessary for high-tech industries and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, a state-run research institution said Tuesday.

"A supercomputer is a large-sized computing system that performs large-capacity operations. It is becoming important as a key infrastructure for utilizing AI technology and other technologies as well as computational science," Lee Sik, director general of the division of national supercomputing at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), said during a press conference in Seoul.

"The difference in the use of supercomputers compared to the past is that they were mostly used for basic science a lot, but now they are more utilized in studies that are more related to human lives and industries such as dementia and cancer research and development of materials for batteries and semiconductors."

Since the country introduced its first supercomputing system in 1988, Korea has built five supercomputers. But the Nurion, which was introduced in 2018, has been overloaded with an average usage rate of around 75 percent and up to over 90 percent, so the need to introduce a new supercomputer has emerged.

Given advanced countries such as the United States, Japan and European nations usually replace their supercomputers every four to five years, there has been a growing need here to build a next-generation supercomputer, KISTI said.

In May 2021, KISTI unveiled its plan to introduce the sixth supercomputer, and the government conducted a preliminary feasibility study from March to July. On Aug. 11, the plan for a new supercomputing system was approved with a total budget of 292.95 billion won ($205.2 million) and KISTI said it will be able to start operating the new system by the end of 2023.

Lee Sik, director general of the national supercomputing division at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), speaks during a press conference at HJ Business Center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Baek Byung-yeul
Lee Sik, director general of the national supercomputing division at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), speaks during a press conference at HJ Business Center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Baek Byung-yeul

"When we introduced the Nurion, it was recognized as the world's 11th supercomputer in terms of performance. When we start running our sixth one at the end of next year, we expect that the computing system will also be between eighth and 11th in the world," Lee said adding that the new supercomputer will use more graphic processing units to help researchers develop AI technology.

KISTI said the sixth supercomputer is expected to help the country join the world's top five countries in the science and technology sectors. Researchers will be able to use the system to develop new materials for batteries and chips, conduct simulation research for next-generation nuclear reactors, develop new drugs and advance space technologies.


Baek Byung-yeul baekby@koreatimes.co.kr


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