Monday, 18 June, 2018

The United States Takes Title Of World’s Fastest Supercomputer From China

Server racks in the Summit supercomputer.				Oak Ridge National Laboratoryy Server racks in the Summit supercomputer. Oak Ridge National Laboratoryy
Ginger Lawrence | 10 June, 2018, 06:09

In November, China had 202 machines on the Top500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers while the U.S. only had 143, the lowest level since the rankings began 25 years ago.

Supercomputers are to ordinary servers as race cars are to street vehicles.

Despite its long history of cutting edge computing, the U.S. has in recent years been repeatedly surpassed by China: China now boasts the two fastest supercomputers in the world (Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2).

Oak Ridge National Labs has unveiled the 200 petaflop Summit supercomputer.

The Chinese government's aggressive push to become the leader in technologies such as artificial intelligence, microchips and cellular networks has ignited a rivalry with the United States, the traditional front-runner in the digital realm.

Built with funding from the US Department of Energy, the Summit computer uses over 9,000 IBM POWER9 CPUs and more than 27,000 Nvidia Volta GPUs.

Fun fact: At 200 petaflops, if every person on Earth completed one calculation per second, it would take one year to do what Summit can do in one second.

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"The compute resources required by Summit and its workloads go well beyond how we would normally talk about flexibility and scalability for IT operations", Red Hat CTO Chris Wright wrote in a blog post. It could be used for oil exploration, weapons development, climate research, and for cracking encryption codes. Scientists say that further gains and fresh discoveries in fields like medicine, new materials and energy technology will rely on the approach that Summit embodies. "That's where the future lies". With its 200 quadrillion calculations per second (200 petaflops), it comes in at more than two times as fast as China's Sunway TaihuLight.

At eight times the speed of the US's previous fastest computer, Summit is a major advance for the country's supercomputing efforts.

ORNL researchers have already made the world's first exascale scientific calculation (that's one billion billion calculations per second) using Summit, running at 1.88 exaops. "It's going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security".

Summit is a stepping stone toward a world of exascale computing.

"Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation, and above all, benefit the American people", he said. All that computing power means it can process 30 years worth of data saved on a desktop PC in a mere hour.

"There is a direct correlation between leadership in this area and national security implications".