Supercomputer Leapfrog

The US Regains the International Supercomputer Pole Position


Last week, the US Department of Energy unveiled a supercomputer called Summit at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Summit is powerful enough to allow the country to recapture the number-one spot for top-performing supercomputers for the first time since 2013.

Summit was built together with IBM and is powered by 9,216 of its central processing chips along with 27,648 graphics processors from Nvidia. Unlike other supercomputers, it was developed specifically for artificial intelligence, and is optimized for machine learning.

The machine, which was funded by the US government and cost more than $200 million to build, is capable of 200 quadrillion computations per second or 200 petaflops, making it eight times faster than the US' previous top supercomputer and twice as speedy as the world's current leader, which is located at China's National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. To put it simply, Summit is 1 million times faster than a typical laptop.

Supercomputers can accelerate the development of technologies at the forefront of computing, such as artificial intelligence, and handle vast amounts of data. For example, Summit has begun processing data generated by the Million Veteran Program, a US research project that invites volunteers to grant researchers access to their health records, contribute blood tests for genetic analysis and answer questions about their lifestyle. To date, 675,000 US military veterans have joined the programme. As its name suggests, the goal is to reach 1 million volunteers by 2021.

Primarily, Summit could enable large breakthroughs in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in science and technology research fields. This means that supercomputers capable of running the world's most powerful machine-learning algorithms would become invaluable assets for the development and implementation of new scientific advancements. As the global race for computing power heats up, supercomputers are seen as a measure of a nation's technological leadership as well as its future potential. And in particular, countries that can take full advantage of artificial intelligence could achieve significant economic gains.

Summit is a beast of a computer, but there's a healthy competitive atmosphere to outperform the latest and greatest machine. The US, China, Japan, and the EU have all declared a goal to build the world's first "exascale" computer, that is, a machine capable of 1,000 petaflops or at least 1 billion billion calculations per second. This so-called exaflop computing is now the next big milestone in large-scale computing. According to Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy at the US Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, China may pip the US and achieve the landmark by 2020, making the former's current leadership in supercomputing short-lived. Indeed, the bigger prize over the next decade will be leadership in quantum computing — a race already underway.

Sign up to our free Daily Insight service here.

This entry was posted on June 13th, 2018 and is filed under Devices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed or you can leave a response.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On June 13th, 2018


Comments
(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
US carriers team up to offer a solution to improve online authentication: https://t.co/6DsCqlfk5U
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Think about this quote every time I walk across the Thames into the City. Timeless. https://t.co/8h8lWq8Nez
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
RT @nickmcquire: “Our success is dependent on your success. That’s what engenders trust in the long term”. Key sentence. Trust has become n…
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
#msignite2018 @Microsoft -15 #IoT and #EdgeComputing releases. Includes Azure Digital Twin, Azure IoT Platform supp… https://t.co/3DD8pBFN4o
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
This is going to become a globally contentious theme for #5G. The 4G infrastructure approach won't work with 5G but… https://t.co/NMaPf8tZVT
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
RT @KGeorgieva: My #UNGA fact of the day: 1 in 2 women in low income countries cannot prove their ID. This limits their access to critical…
Follow Marina
Angela Ashenden
There are now 329,000 organisations using @MicrosoftTeams - incredible growth over the last six months, accelerated… https://t.co/vQ09JIxvz8
Follow Angela
Kester Mann
RT @benwood: Mystery shopping the iPhone Xs Max. Very constrained stock in-store across all UK channels. Not available till “at least 20th…
Follow Kester
George Jijiashvili
@benwood @podtrackers @PankajKedia '@podtrackers, guys - you're missing a trick here. Make a St. Bernard-exclusive… https://t.co/7SDNuYvbQo
Follow George
Laura Simeonova
RT @benwood: P20 devices testament to Huawei's ambition in smartphone market. Consistently improving design, capabilities and appeal of its…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
Not too early to test out @sketchbookapp on the @SamsungMobile Note 8
Follow Katie

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
US Carriers Partner for Project Verify Initiative Will Use Smartphones to Unlock Online Accounts S... Read more
Blog Post
Walmart to Deploy Oculus Headsets in US Stores Will Workplace Training Be Virtual Reality's Saviour? Virtu... Read more
Blog Post
Google Nets Big Android Win in Cars Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to Embed Android Last we... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
Networks' Ambitions to Launch 5G Early Raise Global Forecast New CCS Insight forecast predicts 5G connections will reac... Read more
More news