President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday to develop a new government initiative focused on supercomputer research to build the world's first exascale computer. The National Strategic Computing Initiative, which will be a partnership between the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation and parts of the private sector, will work on designing the world's fastest supercomputer.

The order outlines a plan for the United States to develop a supercomputer that could run at 1,000 petaflops or one petaflop, which could be capable of mimicking the human brain, according to VICE. The world's fastest supercomputer currently is China's Tianhe-2 which performs at 33.86 petaflops.

The initiative will focus on "accelerating delivery of a capable exascale computing system," the order said, and will be responsible for "establishing, over the next 15 years, a viable path forward for future high performance computing systems even after the limits of current semiconductor technology are reached (the 'post-Moore's law era')."

BlueGene/L Supercomputer BlueGene/L Supercomputer in Livermore, Calif. Photo: Reuters

 The project would require a complete architectural overhaul of how today's computers operate, estimates ZDNet, but would be crucial to ensuring the computing power necessary to maintaining long-term economic growth.

"By strategically investing now, we can prepare for increasing computing demands and emerging technological challenges," wrote Tom Kalil, the deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology, and Jason Miller, the deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the National Economic Council in a statement.  The initiative will build "the foundation for sustained U.S. leadership for decades to come, while also expanding the role of high-performance computing to address the pressing challenges faced across many sectors."

Exascale supercomputers developed by the United States government would most benefit NASA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Health and the Department of Homeland Security, reported ZDNet.