World's fastest supercomputer is right here in the USA


And just like that, the United States is back on top. We are not talking about medals in the most recent Olympic Games, though the U.S. did reign with 121 total, nor are we referring to the World Cup, which will start this week without the involvement of America.

In fact, we're not talking about any kind of sporting event, though the competition to be No.1 is pretty intense. Instead, we're talking about computer power, or more specifically, supercomputer power. As of right now, the most powerful supercomputer on the planet calls the United States its home. And powerful, it is.

The news came down Friday when the Department of Energy showed off a supercomputer known as "Summit." Located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, when operating at its peak Summit can run at 200 petaflops.

Now, what is a petaflop? Try 200 quadrillion calculations per second.

The previous record holder was China's Sunway TaihuLight, though its 93 petaflop capacity pales in comparison to Summit. The last U.S. computer to rank first was Titan, which was about seven times slower than Summit. Made up of 4,608 servers and the size of about two tennis courts, Summit is made up of more than 9,000 22-core IBM Power9 processors with greater than 27,000 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. Its cooling system needs 4,000 gallons of water per minute, and all in all it uses enough power to run 8,100 homes.

Summit is about more than just topping China

While that is certainly a benefit, having the most powerful supercomputer in the world and knocking China off the perch it held the last five years, Summit was actually designed for artificial intelligence operations.

It can also use the machine and deep learning power to look into health, physics and climate modelling, among other things. In fact, scientists say they have already run an exascale scientific calculation, which is 1 billion calculations, or one exaop, per second.

Summit nearly doubled that, coming in at 1.88 exaops as it was analyzing millions of genomes. It can even reach 3.3 exaops by using mixed precision calculations. The U.S. is hopeful of building a fully capable exascale computing ecosystem, one that will be used for research by 2021.

Down the road, projects the supercomputer could help with include analyzing exploding stars and running simulations on new types of materials. They will also look into relationships between cancer factors like genes, biological markers and environment.


America, in particular, is still the biggest target for state-sponsored attacks. Aside from the cyber-defence strategies our dedicated tech experts in the military, the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI are employing, regular consumers can contribute by regularly checking their gadgets from malicious software that can turn them into pawns in an all-out cyber attack.

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