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Japan’s METI Plans State-of-the-Art Supercomputer to Boost Generative AI Development

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) leads an ambitious project to build an advanced supercomputer aimed at propelling domestic generative AI development


Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) is set to make a significant technological advancement with plans to build a state-of-the-art supercomputer. This initiative is to bolster the domestic development of generative artificial intelligence (AI). The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), an affiliate of METI, will spearhead the project, aiming to produce a supercomputer whose computational capacity will be approximately 2.5 times superior to the current one by 2024.

The Japanese government has recognized the need for powerful computational tools to keep up with the technological advancements in AI. This initiative is designed to give domestic companies, who are developing generative AI, a leg up. Once operational, the new supercomputer will be made available to these companies through cloud services under the guidance and supervision of METI.

AIST, as one of Japan’s leading research institutions, will be creating a new dedicated research center focusing on supercomputer and quantum technologies. This initiative is backed by a substantial investment from METI, with an allocated budget of 32 billion yen, equivalent to about $226 million. This fund is purposed for the creation of the necessary infrastructure.

Upon its completion, the research center will host the new supercomputer. The center’s main focus will be research in quantum technology while providing access to Japanese companies to the new supercomputer. Similar to its predecessor, the new machine will be accessible remotely through a cloud service, adding a level of convenience and flexibility.

The AI-specific supercomputer will boast the highest computational power in Japan, outpacing even “Fugaku” at Riken. It’s expected to serve 3,000 Japanese companies and researchers, including notable ones like Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, who are all involved in AI development.

The new machine aims to overcome the limitations of the existing supercomputer, which struggles to handle the massive data-processing needs required by generative AI development. The introduction of the new supercomputer is expected to resolve this challenge, allowing for more rapid and efficient AI development.

Generative AI holds massive potential for corporations, assisting in devising investment strategies, designing products, and more. Currently, foreign companies, including the U.S.-based OpenAI, the creators of Chat GPT, dominate this field. METI’s initiative to foster a supercomputer for AI development aims to bring Japanese companies into the fold.

This technological leap doesn’t only hold scientific significance; it’s also of strategic importance to Japan’s economic security. The new supercomputer will handle a considerable volume of highly confidential data, reducing Japan’s dependence on foreign countries. It’s encouraging to see the private sector, including companies like Sakura Internet, preparing to introduce their supercomputers, which signifies a growing movement to enhance computational power within Japan.

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