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スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 22, 2009)
Supercomputer vital to Japan's scientific future
スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く(11月22日付・読売社説)

Is the new administration's stance on science and technology about to be called into question due to its budget measures?
 科学技術に対する新政権の基本姿勢が問われるのではないか。

In its review of ministerial budget requests for fiscal 2010, which is aimed at cutting wasteful spending, the Government Revitalization Unit has decided to "effectively freeze" a project by the Education, Science and Technology Ministry to develop a next-generation supercomputer.
 文部科学省の「次世代スーパーコンピューター(スパコン)」開発事業が、行政刷新会議の事業仕分けで「事実上の凍結」とされた。

The supercomputer would be used for science and technology research.
 スパコンは科学技術研究用の高速計算機だ。

The world's leading supercomputers can make calculations one million times faster than a standard personal computer.
最新のものはパソコンより100万倍も速い。

They have more than 1,000 central processing units--the brains of a computer--as well as other components that allow for higher computing speed.
 コンピューターの頭脳であるCPU(中央演算処理装置)が1000個以上、その他部品も高速動作するものを使う。

Most supercomputers are huge and due to the heat they generate while making calculations need to be installed in a large, well air-conditioned room.
本体も巨大なことが多く、計算時の発熱を防ぐため、ほとんどが空調完備の大部屋や建屋に設置されている。

The machines are used for simulations in a wide variety of fields, including climate-change prediction, aircraft design and genetic research. They are indispensable to those who need to conduct tests in fields where practical experiments are nearly impossible to do and they cut the time it takes to carry out research, thereby keeping research costs down.
 気候変動予測や航空機設計、生命現象の解明など多分野で「シミュレーション(模擬実験)」に使われている。実際の実験が難しい分野では欠かせない。研究期間の短縮、費用の圧縮もできる。

In light of these important roles, there is a fierce global competition to develop supercomputers and the Japanese project is going up against the world's best. Does the government intend to undermine advancement in key research areas?
 その重要性から、世界で開発競争が展開され、日本の計画も世界をにらんでいる。こうした意義を軽視していいのか。

===

U.S. leading the way

Currently, the United States is leading the race to develop supercomputers that are even better than the world's leading models, which have reached speeds of about 1 quadrillion calculations per second.
 現在、スパコン開発でトップを走るのは米国だ。上位機種の計算速度は、1秒間に1兆回の1000倍程度に達している。

Japan's next-generation supercomputers aim at improving this calculation performance by the power of one. Such an improvement would see the period taken to develop an aircraft, in simple terms of calculation, lowered to a 10th of the time it currently takes. That would bring huge benefits.
 日本の次世代スパコンは、これを1桁(けた)上回ることが目標だ。1桁でも、例えば航空機開発なら、単純計算で開発期間が10分の1になるのだから恩恵は大きい。

However, it is not easy to improve performance by the power of one over what are already cutting-edge machines. To that end, it is necessary to develop improved circuitry, including better semiconductors, a basic part of every computer. The private sector cannot take on such a massive task alone.
 しかし、最先端で1桁性能を向上させるのは容易でない。基本部品である半導体の開発など幅広く手がける必要があり、民間だけでは挑めない。

The United States and other countries develop supercomputers with financial backing from their governments. Japan also included about 27 billion yen for this purpose in the fiscal 2010 budget requests.
 米国など各国も、政府発注により開発を進めており、日本も来年度予算の概算要求に約270億円を盛り込んでいる。

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Govt backing crucial

During scrutiny of the budget request relating to the supercomputer project, government panel members made comments such as, "Is it really necessary to aim for first place [in this field]?" or "It's better to purchase such equipment from abroad." But these observations of the current situation are both poorly expressed and inaccurate.
 事業仕分けでは「1位を目指す必要があるのか」「海外から買えばいい」などの声が出た。こんな現状認識は甘い。

Unless Japan makes an effort to take the lead in supercomputer development, it will not rank with the superpowers in the field.
 1位を目指すくらいでないと世界に伍(ご)せない。

Japan ranked first in the world in terms of supercomputer calculation speed in 2002, but lost the top spot 2-1/2 years later. Today, it languishes in 31st place, behind even China and South Korea.
2002年に日本のスパコンが計算速度で世界1位になったが、2年半で抜かれ、今は31位だ。中国、韓国が保有するスパコンにも後れを取る。

Buying a supercomputer from abroad can prove very difficult because nations closely guard the secrets behind their state-of-the-art technology. Japan would be reduced to purchasing only midranking supercomputers in terms of processing capacity.
 海外から買うにも最先端技術は各国が詳細を秘している。一般的な性能のものしか買えない。

If researchers cannot use cutting-edge supercomputers in Japan, it could lead to a brain drain of capable researchers. An overseas report has already appeared in which it was said that Japan's science and technology spheres would fall into decline if the supercomputer project was frozen.
 日本で最先端スパコンが使えないと、優秀な研究者が流出することにもなりかねない。スパコン凍結で日本の科学技術は衰退に向かう、との海外報道もある。

Budget requests for other science and technology-related projects also were severely scrutinized. It is natural to want to cut wasteful spending in the budget requests, but we do not want to see a situation emerge in which Japan's science and technology lifeline also is cut.
 事業仕分けでは、他の科学技術関連予算も厳しくたたかれた。無駄排除は当然だが、日本の科学技術の命脈を断つ事態は困る。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2009)
(2009年11月22日00時10分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-22 12:29 | 英字新聞

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