Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Supercomputers. I guess some of you are probably imagining a super widescreen with 4k resolution and a video card that can play Fortnite or PUBG in 500 fps in highest settings. Sorry to disappoint you but supercomputers have other, more sophisticated purpose. They are scientists’ best tool. They can make simulations and calculations faster than ever. They use A.I., machine learning, different algorithms for different areas of science like – medicine, biology, engineering, cloud computing and more.
Back to the power, how do you measure it, if not in fps like the video games?
The unit is called FLOPS (floating point operations per second). The science has gone so far, that now we see PFLOPS, which is one thousand million million (1015)!
So let’s jump right to the top chart of supercomputers:
- Sunway TaihuLight. In number one with the staggering 93 petaflops at its peak is the Chinese super beast. It is approximately 3 times better than the second best! It has nodes of processors called Sunway Sw26010, 40960 of them and total of 10 649 600 cores! It has been number one since June 2016. You can find it in the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. The machine runs on custom Linux distribution called RaiseOS.
- Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2). At the second place, we can see another Chinese one. It is more modest at 33,8 petaflops, 3 1200 000 cores of an Intel Xeon E5-2692 processor. It works on Linux too, just like the rest of the supercomputers on this list.
- Piz Daint. This one is owned by Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) and located in Switzerland. It can reach 19,59 petaflops but with significantly less power than the previous (2272kW vs. 17808kW). It has very similar processors – Xeon E5-2690v3 and GPUs from Nvidia (Tesla P). The scientists from CERN use this supercomputer for fundamental physical explorations.
- Gyoukou. No, it is not the guy from Dragon Ball, but it is from the same country – Japan. Gyoukou is another spectacular device. It reaches almost as much as the previous – 19.13petaflops, and it does it with nearly 50% less power – 1350kW. It is also based on the Xeon processors but this time is D-1571.
- Titan. This is the only supercomputer in top 5 from the USA. It has Cray XK7 architecture with AMD processors and Nvidia Kepler GPUs. It can reach 17.59 petaflops. It is located in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it works on projects like Polymer Theory, Nuclear Physics, cancer research and more.
These were the top 5 supercomputers right now. Due to the extremely high price, there is no new configuration every year, but you can expect at least a few new until 2020. The U.S. doesn’t want to be back in the line, and the same institution behind the Titan is working on a 200 petaflops monster named Summit. Their colleagues from Knoxville, Tennessee have a plan for 1000 petaflops for 2021 and others will show ideas too.
All these incredible supercomputers will bring innovations and make our lives easier. We can’t even imagine all the benefits for humankind that is right behind the corner.