US grabs the su­per­com­puter crown again

Computer Shopper - - RANTS & RAVES -

THE BAT­TLE OVER which coun­try owns the world’s fastest su­per­com­puter has been rag­ing for years, and now the US has claimed the ti­tle once again.

In­tro­duc­ing the Sum­mit su­per­com­puter at the Oak Ridge Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory in Ten­nessee (ORNL), US sci­en­tists showed off the com­puter’s im­pres­sive abil­ity to cal­cu­late and an­a­lyse 200 quadrillion cal­cu­la­tions per sec­ond or 200 petaflops.

To put that into per­spec­tive, Sum­mit dou­bles the peak speed of China’s Taihu Light, which owns the top su­per­com­puter ti­tle cur­rently and can reach a peak of 93 petaflops.

For other sci­en­tific ap­pli­ca­tions, Sum­mit can cal­cu­late more than three bil­lion bil­lion mixed pre­ci­sion cal­cu­la­tions and has more than 10 petabytes of mem­ory. That pre­ci­sion has al­lowed US sci­en­tists to run the world’s first ex­as­cale cal­cu­la­tion, ba­si­cally a mas­sive cal­cu­la­tion, that was not pos­si­ble un­til now.

The su­per­com­puter, de­vel­oped by IBM, is one hefty ma­chine, fill­ing up two ten­nis courts and weigh­ing more than a com­mer­cial air­craft, at 340 tonnes. A Sum­mit ma­chine costs around £150m and uses a whole 4,608 com­pute servers. These servers hold two 22-core IBM Power9 pro­ces­sors and six Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs. It draws 13 megawatts of power, and re­quires over 4,000 gal­lons of wa­ter to be con­tin­u­ously pumped through the sys­tem to keep it cool.

The ORNL says Sum­mit will help re­searchers study hu­man pro­tein and cel­lu­lar sys­tems, and could im­prove the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s or heart disease.

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