Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Oak Ridge, TN, United States (4E) – The United States again has the most powerful supercomputer in the world — the Summit (OLCF-4) supercomputer developed by IBM for use at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.
When operating at maximum capacity, Summit is capable of 200 petaFLOPS (Floating Operations Per Second) or 200 quadrillion (200,000,000,000,000) calculations per second on the LINPACK benchmark. That’s more than twice as fast as China’s Sunway TaihuLight’s supercomputer, which can perform 93 petaFLOPS on LINPACK. Sunway TaihuLight has been the world’s fastest supercomputer since 2012.
Summit’s 4,608 servers, which occupy two tennis courts, contain more than 9,000 22-core IBM Power9 processors, and more than 27,000 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. Cooling the system takes 4,000 gallons of water a minute and Summit uses enough power to run 8,100 homes.
“Summit takes GPU 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,” said James Hack, director of ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences. “That means researchers will be able to explore more complex phenomena at higher levels of fidelity in less time than with previous generations of supercomputer systems.”
Summit was designed for artificial intelligence (AI) operations, and can use machine learning and deep learning to accelerate research into health, physics and climate modeling, among other disciplines. Scientists have said Summit has run what they say is the first exascale scientific calculation, or one billion billion calculations per second (one exaop).
Summit almost doubled that, and ran at 1.88 exaops to analyze millions of genomes. it can hit 3.3 exaops using mixed precision calculations. The U.S. is aiming to build a fully capable exascale computing ecosystem for research by 2021, and Summit is a step towards that goal.
Summit will be used to analyze supernovas, or exploding stars, to find out how elements like gold moved through the Universe, and running simulations on new types of materials such as superconductors. Scientists also plan to look for relationships between cancer factors like genes, biological markers and environment by crunching vast reams of health data.
Researchers will use Summit’s power to probe other disease markers, such as for Alzheimer’s, heart disease and addiction. “Summit is enabling a whole new range of science that was simply not possible before it arrived,” said Dan Jacobson, an Oak Ridge computational biologist.
China and United States are in intense competition for world supercomputer supremacy, according to data from the 48th edition of the TOP500 list of supercomputers worldwide released in 2016.
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