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S. Korea to invest 100 bln won in supercomputers

All Headlines 12:00 April 04, 2016

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ICT ministry said Monday it will allocate 100 billion won (US$87.2 million) to develop supercomputers, amid the rising awareness of the segment after Google Inc.'s AlphaGo posted a historical win against mankind in a board game last month.

The Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning said it will invest 10 billion won annually for the next 10 years to foster the development of artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet-of-Things technologies and other emerging industries through supercomputers.

South Korean policymakers have been working to expedite projects that foster the domestic supercomputer industry, especially after AI technology made an impact in March.

Last month, Google's AlphaGo program defeated Lee Se-dol, a ninth-dan Go player with 18 international titles, in four out of five matches in the historic man-versus-computer showdown.

The event was seen by many as the start of the full-fledged development of AI, which will also speed up the growth of the supercomputer industry.

"The latest development of artificial intelligence was made possible through supercomputers boasting high-speed data processes," the ministry said.

As the first phase of the project, the ministry plans to develop a supercomputer with a data-processing speed of 1 petaflop (PF) in five years, eventually reaching 30 PF by 2025.

A petaflop is the speed in which a figure of a quadrillion digits can be processed in a second. The term is used to assess the capabilities of supercomputers.

The ministry said a 1-petaflop computer can be utilized for predicting maritime and landslide-related disasters.

The ministry added a state-level project for supercomputers has become vital as more than 95 percent of South Korea's market for high-performance computers is dominated by overseas firms.

The South Korean market for high-performance computers is estimated at 260 billion won for 2015, accounting for only 2.5 percent of the global total.

colin@yna.co.kr
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