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For the last half-decade, the most powerful supercomputers in the world have been in China. That has changed with the US now the home of the world’s most powerful supercomputer called Summit. This beast of a supercomputer can operate at peak performance of 200 petaflops.

200 petaflops is 200 million billion calculations per second. That is a hard number to wrap your brain around so MIT Technology Review puts it in more perspective. To do that many calculations by hand every person on Earth would need to do a calculation every second of every day for 305 days to crunch the same amount of data that Summit does in a blink of an eye.

Summit is 60% faster than the TaihuLight supercomputer and about eight times faster than Titan. Titan was previously the fastest supercomputer in the US. Titan lives at Oak Ridge National Lab, the same place Summit calls home.

Supercomputers are about more than bragging rights, scientists use supercomputers for all sorts of projects from designing aircraft to studying nuclear weapons. Having the fastest supercomputer could give scientists the edge over competing nations. Summit was designed from the ground up to run AI applications like machine learning and neural networks.

Inside the room full of server cabinets that comprise Summit live over 27,000 GPU chips from NVIDIA. The machine also has IBM Power9 chips inside designed specifically for AI workloads. Summit can run calculations about ten times faster than Titan using only 50% more electrical power. Among the projects scheduled for Summit is one that is looking at massive volumes of data to identify the relationship between genes and cancer.

Source: Technology Review

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