$200m boost for supercomputing in Smart Nation push
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announces $200 million fillip to develop field as part of Smart Nation goals
Regular computers would take 30 years to scan the genetic material of over 200 gastric cancer tumours.
But supercomputers using artificial intelligence (AI) can get the job done in a few months, a significant development in the fight against the disease.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday cited this as one example of the role of supercomputers as he announced a $200 million boost to further develop the field of supercomputing.
It is one of the areas that Singapore is focused on to achieve its Smart Nation goals.
The funds will come from the $19 billion set aside by the Government to develop new technologies under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan, said Mr Heng, who is also chairman of the National Research Foundation board.
Speaking at the launch of the Supercomputing Asia 2019 conference, he said: "To support the next phase of this development, the National Research Foundation will allocate $200 million under the RIE 2020 plan to upgrade both our supercomputing capability and network speed and quality for access by all institutions of higher learning and research institutions."
Supercomputers perform at the current highest operational rate for computers.
They enable problem-solving and data analysis that would be impossible, too time-consuming or costly for regular computers. This allows them to carry out high-level processes and effectively use technologies such as AI.
Supercomputers can be used in climate research, molecular modelling, physical simulations and quantum mechanics.
Mr Heng said supercomputers are an important tool in helping Singapore to continue its economic growth, and the field's potential for innovation makes investment in it critical.
Referencing petaflops, a widely recognised unit to measure high-level computational ability, he elaborated on how the $200 million investment will significantly increase the speed of supercomputers here and help Singapore stay connected internationally.
"This will provide 15 to 20 petaflops of high-quality, high-end computing performance. This is equivalent to having a million laptops that are equipped with extensive high-performance network connectivity to our global partners," he added.
Mr Heng said Singapore needs to continue to allocate time, money and effort to the field of supercomputing in order to realise its Smart Nation goals, upgrade its economy and remain competitive with other countries that are also developing capabilities in this field.
"As we embark on our journey as a Smart Nation and digitalise our economy, we must upgrade our supercomputing resources to keep up with our partners globally and to solve complex national challenges more quickly and effectively," he said.