Summit is the No1 supercomputer in the world

Daniel Fowler
June 11, 2018

He is about eight times stronger than the now-best American supercomputer, Titan, also the Oak Ridge Laboratory, who was fifth in the world rankings.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory again has the world's most powerful supercomputer.

Summit is meant to be used for machine learning and deep learning applications. Summit will provide 5-10 times the computational firepower as the current fastest American supercomputer, Titan, which is also based at Oak Ridge and comes fifth in the list.

The US will soon lay claim to ownership of the world's fastest supercomputer, a title it was stripped of by China in 2013. Due to such features, America and China are involved in a technological rivalry of sorts with the Pentagon seeing Chinese companies as a national security threat. Well, it can do mathematical calculations at the rate of 200 quadrillion per second.

Stupefying? Dongarra offered another analogy: The University of Tennessee football stadium seats about 100,000 people. The US plans to increase its funding in high-performance computing, Perry said, with the goal of building a system capable of exascale (1000 petaflop) computing by 2021. It could be used for oil exploration, weapons development, climate research, and for cracking encryption codes. "And, IBM is selling this same technology in Summit to enterprises today". The newest list will not be released until later this month, but Dongarra said he had no doubt the new machine is the fastest.

"It can do, in fractions of a second, what it would take millions of computers to do otherwise", says John Kelly, a senior vice president with IBM, which built the machine.

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Supercomputing technology has been improving rapidly in recent years. The nodes are also connected by no less than 185 miles of fiber-optic cable.

Supersized: The machine's 4,608 servers and associated gear fill the space of two tennis courts and weigh more than a large commercial aircraft.

While impressive, Summit can be seen as a placeholder. The machine made by IBM together with other companies is now rated as the world's fastest system. It comes as the race between the USA and China for technological supremacy is being taken more seriously by U.S. lawmakers, who are concerned about the billions China is spending on artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

The machines will give the U.S a security edge and can help develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. lead, scientists say, could be short-lived.

"From its genesis 75 years ago, ORNL has a history and culture of solving large and hard problems with national scope and impact", ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said.

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