Can process 200,000 trillion calculations per second
For five years, China had the title of having the world’s speediest computer. But the latest machinery from the US seems to have taken that position and is being called the world’s most powerful.
Built in partnership by IBM Research, the US Department of Energy, and the Oak Ridge National Lab at a cost of $200m, Summit is the latest supercomputer which can process 200,000 trillion calculations per second – or 200 petaflops.
And to put that into perspective, New York Times reporter Steve Lohr explains: “A person doing one calculation a second would have to live for more than 6.3 billion years to match what the machine can do in a second.”
To keep the servers cool, the Summit reportedly needs a network of pipes circulating 4,000 gallons of water through the system every minute.
ORNL director Dr Thomas Zacharia said in a speech recently that Summit had already been used to run a comparative genomics code while it was being built.
“Literally as the machine was being assembled they were getting on the machine and running,” he said, adding: “Imagine [driving a] race car while you’re putting the tyres on.”