Following the recent news about Microsoft’s Underwater Datacenter, the US Department of Energy has just announced the fastest super computer in the world – called Summit.

This new supercomputer, based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, will max out at 200 petaflops which is 200,000 trillion calculations per second!   It was developed in partnership with IBM and Nvidia.

“Today’s launch of the Summit supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development. It’s going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness and national security,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “I am truly excited by the potential of Summit, as it moves the nation one step closer to the goal of delivering an exascale supercomputing system by 2021. Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation and above all, benefit the American people.”

The computer consists of 4608 servers with a combined total of over 9000 22-core IBM processors, and 27,000 NVIDIA Graphic Processing Units (GPUs).   Now that’s powerful!

Cooling this monster takes more than 4000 gallons of water per minute and uses the same power that would keep 8100 homes running.

The previous record was held by China with their supercomputer “Sunway TaihuLight”.   It was capable of 93 petaflops which is less than half the speed of Summit.   They are no doubt rushing to try and reclaim the lead and leapfrog this with an even faster computer.

The computer is so valuable to researchers that they were actually using it as they were building it.   ORNL Director, Dr. Thomas Zacharia said “”Literally as the machine was being assembled they were getting on the machine and running,” he said.   “Imagine driving a race car while you’re putting the tyres on.”

Summit was designed with AI in mind and will be used to research science problems, such as climate modelling, by applying techniques such as machine learning and deep learning.

“Summit takes accelerated computing to the next level, with more computing power, more memory, an enormous high-performance file system and fast data paths to tie it all together. That means researchers will be able to get more accurate results faster,” said Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences. “Summit’s AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery.”

It is estimated that summit can solve a problem in one hour that would take an average desktop computer over 30 years to do the same.

It’s also going to be used for Cancer research.  It can analyze huge amounts of data to find previously hidden links between disease factors such as genes, biological markers and environment.   By searching through medical reports and images the machine learning will be able to researchers with new insights.

It’s a huge jump forward for the US, whose previous top computer “Titan”, which was eight times slower than Summit.

“We know we’re in a competition and it matters who gets there first,”said US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, speaking at the ORNL event.

“The ability to show the rest of the world that America is back in the game and we’re back in the game in a big way is really important.”

“Summit’s computing capacity is so powerful that it has the ability to calculate 30 years’ worth of data saved on a desktop in one hour… this is about changing the world.”

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