America has now the Fastest Computer in the world but does that matter?

America has now the Fastest Computer in the world but does that matter?

Summit, the fastest supercomputer, can perform 200 quadrillion calculations per second by consuming less energy than TaihuLight.

In this age of information, the country which is most advanced technologically will rule the world. A lot of developed countries invest huge amounts of money to strengthen themselves in this domain in order to slip past the others. According to the list of the ‘Top 500 Most Powerful Supercomputers’ at the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, China was dominating as it held the top 2 spots.

Switzerland followed it in 3rd while the systems from the United States conquered the next 3 spots. However, America seemed quite determined to acquire the top spot irrespective of the cost and the fact that the Department of Energy issued $258 million to six companies was the proof of that. This funding was provided to enhance the speed of research and development of an Exascale Computer, the first of its kind.

This happened for the 1st time in 24 years that no American Supercomputer secured one of the top 3 positions as a system from the Swiss National Supercomputing Center gained 5 places to overcome the American machine. The US government provided funding to Intel, NVidia, Hewlett Packard, and Advanced Micro Devices and Cray. The tasks assigned to them included Efficiency, Reliability, and Overall Performance of the Exascale Supercomputer.

All the Supercomputers known at that time operated at a speed of 1,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second. The name given to this massive figure is ‘One Quadrillion’. The estimated speed of an Exascale Supercomputer will be One Quintillion which is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second. For sake of better understanding, consider latest laptops which can process only one billion calculations in a second. This means that an Exascale Supercomputer is a trillion times faster and powerful than the systems we consider to be quick.

Exascale Supercomputers will enable the scientists to create extremely precise Digital Simulations of biological systems. This could be a great achievement not only for the sake of science but also for humanity as critical questions with respect to Climate Change and Drought could well be answered. A lot of chemists are working in the field of computing power these days as powerful processing allows them to analyze the cells in a much more efficient way.

If they know how certain plants react to a drought, they might succeed in engineering crops that are drought-resistant. Similarly, they would be in a much better position to make predictions for the future. This will provide an accurate guideline that the governments and companies need to follow in order to avoid disastrous effects. Thom Dunning, the Co-director of the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, mentioned that in the following words:

As you develop models that are more sophisticated that include more of the physics, chemistry and environmental issues that are important in predicting the climate, the computing resources you need increases.”

The American efforts to develop an extremely fast Supercomputer have met success as they have dethroned China from the top spot as a supercomputer called ‘Summit’ process 200 quadrillion calculations per second. It is officially the fastest supercomputer in the world as it works at a whopping 200 petaFLOPS. The previous leader of this list, Sunway TaihuLight, was measured to work at 125 petaFLOPS. It can also perform 3,000,000,000 billion mixed precision calculations per second.

The presence of 10 Petabytes of memory allowed the researchers to run an Exascale scientific calculation on this machine for the first time ever in human history. It has a total of 4608 computing servers. All of them contains 2 22-core IBM Power9 Processors and 6 NVidia Tesla V100 Graphics Processing Units. It takes 13 Megawatts of power which is better than its closest competitor, TaihuLight which needs 15 Megawatts for functioning.

The Department of Energy of the United States revealed this IBM AC922 system to the world in collaboration with IBM. It is an extremely important mission as Summit will help scientists to solve medical queries. This will ultimately lead to treatments of problems like Addiction. It has been designed in a way that it is capable to adapt to the latest developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence. We will have to wait and watch how things turn out but for now, Summit has allowed the United States to get their status of ‘Tech leaders’ back.

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